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NCC to launch new grant-funded aviation programs

By Christopher Roberson - Staff Writer | Jun 21, 2023

Courtesy photo

NASHUA – After a one-year hiatus, the Aviation Technology program at Nashua Community College will be returning to campus with a new and improved curriculum.

Slated for the fall 2024 semester, the program will feature classes in air traffic control and airport management.

According to NCC spokesperson Christina Forbes, the new curriculum will be funded by a $782,000 grant secured by U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) from the Department of Education’s Fund for Improvement for Postsecondary Education. The Federal Aviation Administration will also provide funding with a $459,000 workforce development grant.

“The bottom line is that it’s a growing program,” said Douglas Mitchell, aviation professor and program coordinator. “We received federal grants, we’re hiring another full-time faculty member, we’re physically expanding in every way; we’re expanding programs and expanding options for students.”

Mitchell said the grant money will be used to update training equipment, fund student scholarships and purchase 20 computers with aviation software. There will also be air traffic control simulators, a glass cockpit and an avionics simulator.

“Previously, every student had to buy $3,000 worth of tools and the FAA grant had $90,000 set aside for tools,” he said. “With discounts, I was able to get 40 tool sets, which will arrive by the end of July. We will get the word out to all the students coming in that they don’t have to worry about tools.”

In addition, PlaneSense in Portsmouth donated a wing and landing gear to the college while Concord resident Debby Tamborella donated a Cessna 172.

“We have a program advisory board with key industry players and our partners have expressed interest in donating equipment and their time,” said Robyn Griswold, vice president of Academic Affairs. “The new curriculum is much more innovative and integrated with FAA standards.”

Griswold said she and her colleagues predict that the college will become the region’s leading aviation training center.

“The faculty are incredibly passionate, we couldn’t do this without the dedicated cadre of professors, retired air traffic controllers, who are passionate about the program, we’re so lucky,” she said.

The air traffic control courses will be based on the aviation curriculum used at Southern New Hampshire University. However, the university has decided to phase out its program, thus giving NCC the opportunity to fill that gap.

“Right now, we’re adapting the four-year coursework from Southern New Hampshire University into a two-year associate degree,” said Mitchell.

Students who complete the air traffic control pathway will earn a Collegiate Training Initiative certificate. Having this certificate will give students a head start as they begin their final FAA training in Oklahoma.

“If you get a CTI certificate, it cuts down on the time you need to be in training, and it makes it more likely you will be hired by the FAA,” said Mitchell. “It gives you a leg up.”

Students who complete the airport management pathway will receive an associate degree, which will make them eligible for jobs at Manchester-Boston Regional Airport and Logan International Airport.

The college will be hosting its Industry and Transportation Open House on July 20 at 2 p.m. The event will give prospective students the opportunity to meet with faculty and tour the aviation lab.

Students in grades 6-12 can also sign up for NCC’s half-day summer camp, which will be held the week of July 24. Sign up forms are available online at nashuacc.edu/summer-camps.


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