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WMU donates simulator to aviation academy

Feb. 15, 2011

KALAMAZOO--An evolving partnership between Western Michigan University's College of Aviation and the nation's first charter high school for young aviators was celebrated Feb. 10, as WMU's College of Aviation donated a flight simulator to the West Michigan Aviation Academy.

"We are truly appreciative of Western Michigan University's College of Aviation for this resource," says WMAA School Board President Dick DeVos. "Our students will benefit greatly from this opportunity to further explore, enhance and sharpen skills required for the demanding and rewarding field of aviation."

"This is about our organizations' commitment to one another to support and welcome young people into aviation," says Captain Dave Powell, dean of the WMU aviation college. "We'd love to see WMAA graduates at WMU a few years from now, and we're looking forward to working with them as they grow into aviation professionals in the future."

The flight simulator is one of two that WMU aviation officials have decided to dedicate to student outreach. Last fall, the college upgraded its simulation technology to match the sophisticated avionics in its fleet of 26 Cirrus aircraft used by the college for flight training.

While the bulk of WMU's flight simulation technology now features the new avionics, two of the college's original simulators remain at the level more commonly used in collegiate aviation. One will go to the academy, and WMU aviation officials will use the other for a mobile classroom that will travel to schools around the region, helping students explore the potential of science and technology careers.

"These two simulators represent the current standard for collegiate aviation programs nationwide," Powell points out. "At WMU, we've been able to leapfrog ahead of that standard and adopt new simulation technology to support our highly advanced aircraft. We recognize the incredible value these other two simulators have for young people exploring flight science, and we're delighted to make one available to WMAA, where it will be put to tremendous educational use for young people in the Grand Rapids area. It's part of WMU's longtime commitment to the people of that city."

The WMAA is America's only public aviation charter high school. It opened last fall with its inaugural ninth-grade class and is now recruiting up to 80 students for its next incoming class that will begin in fall 2011. Located at Grand Rapids' Gerald R. Ford International Airport, the school offers three aviation tracks in flight, aviation administration and aviation mechanics.

"Our students have a unique opportunity," notes WMAA CEO Patric  J. Cwayna. "Thanks to WMU and the West Michigan community, we have the tools our students need for success. With hard work, dedication and commitment to goals, WMAA students have unlimited horizons."

WMU's aviation college traces its roots back more than 70 years, and is widely regarded as one of the nation's top three collegiate aviation programs. It is located on the grounds of W.K. Kellogg Airport in Battle Creek, Mich.

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

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