FAA Deputy Administrator Bradley Mims visited the WERX MRO at Wichita State University’s National Institute for Aviation Research (NIAR) Tuesday alongside U.S. Senator Jerry Moran.
Mims, a 40-year aviation industry veteran, toured the NIAR WERX and met with students, administrators and program directors for Kansas Modification Center’s 777-300ERCF conversion and other conversion programs underway at WERX.
His first visit to Wichita in 25 years, one of Mim’s goals was to understand the technical education needs of the industry. He met with WSU senior vice president for Industry and Defense Programs and NIAR executive director John Tomblin and WSU Tech president Sheree Utash, who detailed how NIAR WERX and WSU Tech have collaborated to implement the Get to WERX program, which provides tuition reimbursement for students seeking a certificate in aviation maintenance technology, while simultaneously working in paid positions with NIAR WERX.
“I want to get a feel for what’s going on in the industry in terms of making sure the next generation – next two generations – of young people are getting a technical education to make sure this industry continues to prosper,” said Mims. “On something like this 777 here, moving forward, I want to make sure that our young people are educated and ready to meet the demands for the future – whatever vocation they choose.”
Mims and Moran also toured portions of the NIAR’s Advanced Technologies Lab for Aerospace Systems (ATLAS), next door to NIAR WERX at WSU’s South Oliver site. NIAR and global science company, Solvay, recently announced a partnership in which scientists and engineers at Solvay will be embedded at NIAR ATLAS, lending their expertise in material science while taking advantage of the unique state-of-the-art material development equipment at NIAR ATLAS.
“Mims already understands the importance of strong partnerships between industry, technical education and higher education,” said Tomblin. “Programs like those we have implemented at WSU, NIAR and WSU Tech can and should be duplicated across the nation in order to ensure the strength and power of the aviation industry in U.S.”