San Antonio high school students interested in pursuing aviation careers received a boost from Hallmark University as part of the institution’s new Aerospace College Head Start Institute (Aero CHI). The FAA-approved college-level program is free for the students and encourages youth to get a jump on careers in aerospace maintenance.
College officials cited a Boeing study that estimated the need for 648,000 technicians within the next 20 years, which is driven by emerging economies, strong aircraft replacement demand, and new markets.
The university estimated enrollment and operating expenses to get the program off the ground would normally cost $13,000 for the 22 North East Independent School District juniors that have registered for the inaugural class. The initiative is publicly and privately funded.
The new program is a good fit, explained the college's Mik Rowe, because more than 10,000 San Antonians already work in the aviation industry.
The goal of AOPA’s You Can Fly High School Initiative is to help build and sustain aviation-based science, technology, engineering, and math programs and provide a quality workforce to the aviation industry.
Essentially, students will attend Hallmark where they will complete required high school classes and simultaneously earn college credit for the aircraft maintenance classes.
“What makes it such a neat thing for a student,” Rowe added, “is that after they graduate [from the Aero CHI program] they will have earned 27 credit hours—which is pretty much half of the AAS Airframe Technology degree program.”
Students who complete the Aero CHI high school program can potentially benefit from more than $10,000 in tuition savings if they go on to complete the two-year associate degree. The course credits are also transferable to Part 147 schools.
“The Aero CHI program is the first of its kind for a private nonprofit university in San Antonio,” said Hallmark University President Brent Fessler, who added that the school has enjoyed a “long history” of partnering with San Antonio’s aerospace institutions.
Hallmark also offered an intensive summer camp for San Antonio-based high school students to explore careers in aviation or the school’s other three core subjects of business, health, and information technology.
Those in the five-day aviation tract met in a San Antonio International Airport hangar, sat in general aviation aircraft, observed airport maintenance operations, and toured the air traffic control tower. “We see a lot of enthusiastic kids emerge from our summer intensives," noted Rowe. “The aviation industry brings a wealth of opportunity.”