Oklahoma State University has secured one of the first-ever grants to be issued through the FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018.
OSU was awarded a $450,000 Aviation Maintenance Technical Workers grant to establish a sustainable training pipeline for addressing the needs and priorities of Oklahoma’s aviation maintenance workforce. These maintenance professionals make up a significant sector of the aviation and aerospace industry that drives Oklahoma’s economic growth.
OSU President Kayse Shrum said the latest grant is just another example of how the university is pushing aerospace forward, not just at OSU, but across the state.
“As a modern land-grant institution, our mission is to use public-impact research to improve lives and engage with industry to solve society’s most pressing needs,” Dr. Shrum said. “When it comes to aerospace, our state has an opportunity to lead, and that leadership begins right here at Oklahoma State, where we are focused both on advancing research and empowering a skilled workforce that can propel our state forward.”
Sen. Jim Inhofe, who established two grant programs within the FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018 — one for Aircraft Pilots and one for Aviation Maintenance Technical Workers — praised OSU’s continued commitment to advancing the aerospace industry in Oklahoma. He also recognized the Oklahoma Aeronautics Commission, the only other entity in the state to receive a similar grant — $491,000 to launch a statewide program that includes the training of teachers and the delivery of the “You Can Fly” Pilot and Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Pathway High School Curriculum to students.
“Oklahoma would not be able to thrive without aviation maintenance technical workers,” Inhofe said. “It is essential that we find ways to improve their career opportunities and ensure they have the proper training to keep up with the ever-changing aviation industry. I am proud to have seen this funding through to the finish line and I know Oklahoma State University will put it to good use, educating the next generation of aviation maintenance professionals.”
Congressman Frank Lucas echoed Inhofe’s excitement about OSU’s latest grant and the increasingly bright future for Oklahoma aerospace.
“I’m extremely proud of the work Oklahoma State University is doing to establish a sustainable pipeline of well-trained aviation technicians who can service some of the world’s most successful aerospace companies that call Oklahoma home,” Lucas said. “With more than 1,100 aerospace entities operating in the state — including manufacturers, researchers and development, military, and others — the Federal Aviation Administration’s investment of $450,000 to Oklahoma State University will help train a skilled workforce that is crucial to Oklahoma’s economy.
“The investment in such programs proves Oklahoma is open for business and allows for industries to provide more opportunities to the hard-working people of Oklahoma. I’m grateful industry leaders are expanding existing opportunities for Oklahomans to meet the challenges of the 21st century, and I’m proud of the leadership Oklahoma State University continues to exemplify in preparing students for the STEM and aerospace opportunities of tomorrow.”
The principal investigator for the grant is Timm Bliss, who is the graduate program coordinator and a professor of aviation education in the College of Education and Human Sciences.
Dr. Kenneth Sewell, OSU vice president for research, sees supporting the aerospace industry in Oklahoma and nationwide through research and development — as well as workforce development — as a consistent focus for OSU.
“OSU’s programs in aviation education and in aerospace engineering provide the backbone of this support, and the new FAA workforce development grant will serve to amplify our impact,” Sewell said.