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"Fly Team Michigan!" taps state's aviation potential

March 28, 2007

KALAMAZOO--Western Michigan University and four Michigan community colleges have joined forces to make the state a powerhouse in aviation education and boost the reach of economic development in the aviation sector for communities around Michigan.

The principals of a new collegiate association, "Fly Team Michigan!," met in Lansing March 27 to formalize their agreement in a signing ceremony at the office of Michigan Lt. Gov. John Cherry, who added the state's endorsement for the effort. The four community colleges joining with WMU in the statewide effort are Delta College, Jackson Community College, Lansing Community College and Northwestern Michigan College.

The agreement will allow Michigan to build a cost-efficient network of aviation education programs that can work toward sharing assets; set up large-scale cooperative purchasing agreements to acquire needed equipment and supplies; collaborate on research, development of new aviation methods and course materials; recruit and market; and expand job placement programs.

"Expanding access to higher education is a critical component of our plan to transform Michigan's economy," said Lt. Governor John D. Cherry Jr. of the collaborative effort. "This cooperative agreement between Western Michigan University, Delta College, Jackson Community College, Lansing Community College and Northwestern Michigan College will not only expand access to aviation training for students, but will streamline costs and strengthen economic development efforts in this growing field."

Through the arrangement, students in aviation disciplines at the four community colleges will enjoy a seamless transition from their associate's degree programs to WMU's four-year baccalaureate program. They can then continue their careers by moving into one of the exclusive bridging agreements WMU enjoys with regional air carriers and local partners.

"We want Michigan to be recognized as the leader in aviation education," says Capt. Rick Maloney, dean of WMU's College of Aviation. "This is an opportunity to start collaborating and explore the future of what aviation education can be. All of us have been building the quality and success of our individual programs, and we've been very successful. Together, however, we'll be able to build a system that will produce most highly qualified and sought-after aviation professionals in the nation. We're out to support each other and each other's communities."

Maloney says the agreement has been in the discussion stages for about two years, as the partners explored each other's programs, philosophies and values to ensure the members of Fly Team Michigan shared a common set of goals.

"We're very comfortable with each other and the driving forces for our programs," Maloney says. "We all have an unwavering focus on flight safety, a commitment to integrity and a goal of providing the very best in aviation education. This is really a one-time opportunity to build on those shared values and establish statewide collaboration. It's good for our students and good for the state."

Sen. Mark Schauer of Battle Creek attended the signing and expressed his pride over the fact that both WMU and Jackson Community College are part of his district. The agreement is the right course, he said, because it keeps the focus on students and promotes partnership with industry.

"This is leveraging the investment we make in each of your institutions," he said. "The result will be an economy that is even more vibrant."

WMU's College of Aviation has educated aviation professionals since 1939 and offers complete academic degree programs leading to a bachelor's degree in three areas--aviation flight science, aviation management and maintenance technology. The college enrolls some 800 students and is home to the Sky Broncos, a precision flight team has been among the top three in national competition for 14 consecutive years. For more information, visit www.wmich.edu/aviation/.

Delta College is located in University Center, Mich., near Saginaw, Bay City and Midland. The college offers an associates degree in aviation flight technology through a program that is more than 35 years old and has trained more than 1,000 students. Students have the choice of flying out of four local airports: James Clements in Bay City, H.W.Browne in Saginaw, Barstow in Midland and MBS International in Freeland.

Jackson Community College has offered an aviation flight technology program since 1978. Students fly out of the college's two flight centers, one located in Jackson at Reynolds Municipal Airport and the second at Lenawee County Airport. The college annually has approximately 85 students enrolled in its aviation program.

Lansing Community offers programs leading to an associate's degree in aviation flight technology, aviation maintenance and avionics. LCC's flight program has been in existence for 33 years and the maintenance program for 30 years. Each year LCC enrolls approximately 45 students in maintenance and 45 in the flight program. The LCC Aviation Center is located at Lansing's Capital City Airport.

Northwestern Community College in Traverse City offers an aviation program leading to an associate's degree, plus the option of a bachelor completion program through NMC's University Center. NMC recently upgraded its fleet to include glass cockpit technology in new Cessna Skyhawk aircraft.

Media contact: Cheryl Roland, (269) 387-8400, cheryl.roland@wmich.edu

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