By Titus Hubbard, Director of Education, MIAT College of Technology Houston Campus
Working full-time or part-time while pursuing any certificate or degree program is extremely challenging. Adding the realities of family commitments, financial responsibilities, home and vehicle maintenance, and all-important self-care to maintaining a clear focus on working and studying can be extremely stressful.
Faculty and staff members of MIAT’s Houston campus understand exactly how difficult and overwhelming this can be for any student and even more so for students enrolled in FAA-directed aviation maintenance programs. Our faculty and staff members have traveled this same path at various points in our life and career. That’s why we are so passionate about supporting all students in completing their stringent course requirements and graduating from MIAT.
I was asked recently by an aviation industry magazine editor if MIAT has a hard time attracting students to enroll in our aviation maintenance programs. Here is my candid response:
Attracting students is easier than retaining them for the duration of the 20- or 24-month program, given their current part-time or full-time work requirements and family commitments. On average, about 40 percent of students who start their aviation maintenance programs with our Houston campus, graduate. The strict time component set by the FAA can often discourage students who must make up time due to life circumstances that impact their studies.
Ideally, students who enroll in MIAT’s aviation maintenance programs should have a long-range view and a serious commitment to completing their program. Students who put in the effort and the hours to complete their program tend to have a mature mindset and a solid work ethic. This type of “star student” recognizes that he or she is pursuing a prestigious career with huge earning potential that will have a positive impact on him or her as well as all family members for many generations to come.
For the Airframe & Powerplant certificate program, students must complete 2040 hours of classroom study and practical hands-on training. For the Aviation Maintenance Technician Associate degree program, students must complete 2280 hours of classroom and practical hands-on training. Students spend approximately 60 percent of their time in the hangar and 40 percent of their time in the classroom. Their time spent in the hangar includes working on jet engines, reciprocating engines, and other aircraft components; simulated trainers; repairing fuselage; and painting.
Here are some of many ways that MIAT is enhancing the student experience at our Houston campus.
- We are launching a special tutoring program to help our aviation maintenance technology students achieve their Airframe & Powerplant certification, which requires nine tests mandated by the United States Federal Aviation Administration.
- For all students, MIAT encourages group study within our Learning Resource Center to encourage “peer to peer” learning.
- Additionally, MIAT recruits certified A&P mechanics as instructors and recruits aviation industry representatives to provide recommendations for courses and hands-on training as members of its Program Advisory Committee. The PAC members meet twice a year with MIAT faculty and staff on campus. United, Spirit Airlines and many other aviation industry professionals are PAC members who contribute to the student experience by hosting field trips, guest speaking in classes and at graduation events, and sponsoring classrooms. They also come to the campus to train their team members, which provides MIAT students access to working professionals and role models. Aviation industry employers also actively participate in career fairs and routinely hire MIAT graduates. Some of our students secure internships or work part-time for aviation industry employers to gain on-the-job experience and a “leg up” in the hiring process once they graduate.
- Our Houston campus also hosts FAA Inspection Authorization (IA) workshops that are open to any certified A&P mechanics looking to renew their IA certification, which again provides students an opportunity to meet and interact with working professionals.
- Students have access to MIAT alumni who openly provide advice for completing their program and share their insights, perspectives and their experiences as certified A&P technicians working full-time.
- We offer career counseling, financial aid and housing assistance to all students.
We care about all our students. We want to see every student who starts with us finish their program of study with us. Staying the course does reap benefits – not only now, but for many years to come. As with any goal worth pursuing, the results are worth the investment of time, energy and money.
I welcome your comments and questions. Please contact me any time at THubbard@miat.edu. Thank you for your interest in our career college and the impact we are making for our students, our graduates, and their family members for years to come.