SO YOU WANT TO WORK AT COVINGTON AIRCRAFT?
HOW TO POSITION YOURSELF FOR A FUTURE CAREER IN THE AEROSPACE INDUSTRY
The OADC office has often received calls from individuals who want to get a job at Covington Aircraft and ask "how can I make that happen?". Whether you want to work for Covington or in the Aerospace Industry, this article is dedicated to you.
On February 12, OADC staff participated in a joint meeting between Covington Aircraft, Oklahoma Aeronautics Commission (OAC), Oklahoma Department of Commerce Aerospace and Defense and representatives from local education institutions.
The group from the OAC included Grayson Ardies (State Director of Aeronautics) and Paula Kedy (Aviation Education Coordinator for the OAC). Joining us from the Department of Commerce were Geoffrey Camp (State Director of Aerospace and Defense) and Leshia Pearson (ACES Program Manager).
This meeting heavily focused on the workforce development side of this industry, with the objective being a clear pathway of education from public schools to technical schools to university degrees. Going through this course of study would position students (youth or adult) for career opportunities in a growing industry of high paying and very interesting jobs.
There is likely no one in this community that is not aware of Covington Aircraft and what an incredible story and business model it has. In addition to being great community supporters of the Okmulgee community, they are also excellent examples of the strength of Oklahoma’s Aerospace Industry, which is currently the state’s second leading industry. Okmulgee County proudly boasts Liberty Partners and M&M Machining who also serve this industry.
Okmulgee County’s educational partners are also making great strides in the education component of aerospace related workforce development. The OADC is excited to highlight and celebrate these strides that are taking place because of the leadership and collaboration between Okmulgee Public Schools, College of Muscogee Nation, GCTC and OSUIT.
OKMULGEE PUBLIC SCHOOLS: The Okmulgee High School Aviation Academy for Excellence incorporates standardized curriculum from AOPA. The new physical center will be opened soon. High school students will have the opportunity to be under the same roof as college students earning their Associates degree along with their high school diploma. Also offered at the new Academy will be adult education classes in drone operation, CAD, and Industrial Manufacturing.
AOPA stands for Aircraft Owners Pilot Association; their “You Can Fly” High School Aviation Curriculum offers two pathways of learning – The Pilot Pathway and the UAS (Drone) Pathway. They began field testing the aviation STEM curriculum in 2017 and schools across the nation are finding that the program helps students acquire the skill necessary to enter the growing aviation industry. It is free to schools with the only requirement that teachers receive the professional development needed to teach the curriculum. The OAC has been working to increase the number of Oklahoma high schools choosing to implement this curriculum.
And LISTEN UP! Did you know - that Okmulgee High School is one of only sixteen (16) schools out of the 537 schools in the state that are currently implementing the AOPA “You Can Fly” program. Okmulgee High School is the ONLY school in the state that offers the UAS (Drone) pathway. This shows some incredible vision and leadership at Okmulgee Public Schools to be at the forefront of this education path.
Paula Kedy, Aviation Education Coordinator for the OAC (who is also a long time educator in Oklahoma) said this about Okmulgee Public Schools efforts “I had the opportunity to meet with Okmulgee High School’s leadership team in October 2020 and was so impressed with the goals that the school has set in regard to building quality STEM programs for students. Obviously, these have been difficult times for schools to be able to move forward with strong, innovative programs. It is clear to me that Okmulgee High School is working diligently to provide career opportunities for students. Aerospace is Oklahoma’s second leading industry, and it is exciting to see that Okmulgee is doing the necessary work to provide viable career pathways for students.”
GCTC: Green Country Technology Center has also been part of discussions to develop a technical program to address aviation workforce needs in Okmulgee County. The proposed program would consist of Orientation and Overview of Aircraft, Aircraft Familiarization, Aircraft Powerplant, and Aircraft Electrical Systems. GCTC is currently in the curriculum development and exploration stage of this program; they are reaching out to local aviation industry partners asking for their input in building the curriculum. Any time a new program is being considered at GCTC there are many variables to be considered. Employment placement after completion is the most critical component but enrollment numbers must also justify a new program as well as the availability of qualified instructors. Further exploration of this program will determine the timeframe in which it could potentially be launched for Okmulgee County.
OSUIT: The Workforce and Economic Development Department (WFED) at Oklahoma State University Institute of Technology (OSUIT) takes great pride in educating future and incumbent workers in the aviation and manufacturing industries. The WFED was awarded a Department of Defense (DoD), Office of Economic Adjustment (OEA) Grant to facilitate growth in the manufacturing and aviation sectors for DoD Contractors. Upon receiving the grant, the WFED staff formed the Industrial and Aviation Technology Training Center (IATTC). The IATTC boasts a strong advisory committee composed of members from the Oklahoma Manufacturers Alliance (OMA), a State Representative, leading manufacturers, and two aviation companies one of whom is a prominent international airline. The IATTC employs faculty that has extensive industry experience, and holds their curriculum second to none. With aviation at the forefront of Oklahoma’s industrial revolution, the IATTC is poised to provide educational opportunities to those seeking employment and workers needing upskills.
Okmulgee County has a great capacity for attracting companies in this industry. With over 150 acres available (released by the FAA) the Okmulgee Regional Airport Industrial Park is ready for new and expanding aviation companies to land here (pun intended!) and make Okmulgee their home. As our airport industrial park grows, so will the job opportunities right here in our own backyard.
The best advice we could give students and young adults is to seriously consider this field as a future career path. You have some of the finest education opportunities right here. It’s time to explore these possibilities and prepare now for an aviation/aerospace career if this captures your interest!
Deb Marshall is the Assistant Executive Director of Okmulgee Area Development Corp (OADC). She is a native of Kansas City MO and made Okmulgee her home in June 2019. Deb spent 20 years in community and economic development in the Tulsa metroplex and Tanzania East Africa. She loves using her superpowers of being a connector and a communicator to help Okmulgee thrive. Contact her at Deb@ChooseOkmulgee.com.