Transportation Pathways program expanded for Dist. 214 students
Jordan Morrow thought he would have to wait until college to begin studying the fundamentals of aviation.
But the Prospect High School senior is already taking a dual credit introductory aviation course, networking with industry professionals and learning about careers in the field. The opportunities are part of an expanded transportation career pathway in Northwest Suburban High School District 214 that now includes aviation.
"I'm so glad we have this (aviation) program," said Morrow, 17, an aspiring pilot who loves to travel and learn about new cultures. "There needs to be more aviation (courses) in high school. I wish more schools had aviation integrated into their curriculum."
The aviation program in District 214's transportation career pathway launched this summer and comes as the airline industry addresses the extraordinary demand of personnel needed to maintain airplanes.
A 2016 Boeing study found that 1.2 million new commercial airline pilots and maintenance technicians will be needed to fly and maintain the world fleet over the next 20 years.
To create the program, District 214 partnered with Lewis University and built upon the robust automotive maintenance program already designed by district educators.
At District 214 schools, for example, students can enroll in a three-year automotive program that provides access to dual credit courses through Triton College and up to nine industry certifications.
All schools have a full-service garage, complete with four lifts, tire machines, a tire balancer and scan tools. The automotive service programs in each school are certified by a national organization that evaluates technician training programs at the secondary and post-secondary levels against industry standards.
Students learn how to fix brakes, complete oil changes, and create and organize invoices, said Jeffrey Zdenovec, Elk Grove High School's CTE automotive teacher for the last 16 years.
Together, these experiences give students practical knowledge and live shop exposure that prepares them for college and to go straight into the workforce, Zdenovec said.
Beginning this school year, District 214 students in the automotive maintenance program will learn about aviation career opportunities, including maintenance. School counselors will also work with students to assess their interest in aviation and let them know of the new program.
As part of the partnership with Lewis University, District 214 students can earn an aviation maintenance technician certificate and associate's degree within 12 to 18 months of high school graduation. The AMT certificate is considered the gold standard by the FAA.
Individuals with the AMT certification are in high demand because they are skilled in areas such as n pneumatics, hydraulics, advanced electrical systems and advanced avionics, said R. Eric Jones, co-chair of the aviation department at Lewis.
Jones said one of the advantages to building an aviation program with District 214 is the proximity of O'Hare International Airport and Chicago Executive Airport to the district's schools. He hopes students take advantage of the new and unique program.
This summer, students began taking classes at the Chicago Executive Airport, and will continue to do so during the school year.
"We saw that success at our bachelor's degree level and … thought we could partner to offer this (program) so students could be out in the workforce quicker," Jones said.
This story is part of a 16-week series looking at Northwest Suburban High School District 214's Career Pathways program.
To join District 214's Career Pathways effort as an internship host, career mentor or classroom speaker, contact Barb Kain in the Teaching and Learning Department, email@example.com. To support the program financially through a sponsorship, early career credentials or college credits for students, naming or other contribution, contact Erin Brooks with the District 214 Education Foundation, firstname.lastname@example.org.