RVC and Airport Partnership Great for Students, Community

The recently announced partnership between RVC and the Airport is great news for our students and our community. As the Editorial Board stated, this is a good example of the transformation this community desires. We are grateful for the months of discussion between officials from both entities, as well as for the support from Winnebago County.

Naturally, some questions have arisen, which we’re happy to answer to the best of our ability.

When will we break ground, and when will the facility be open for students? Like everyone, we would love to even see the ground under this snow. That said, our timeline is as aggressive as possible within the constraints of state and federal regulations. Without getting into the details of the necessary bidding and planning process, we anticipate breaking ground late this spring or early summer, and our target is to be open for spring classes 2015. As with any major building project, delays can happen, but we will strive to open the facility as soon as responsibly possible.

How many students will we serve? Our goal is to have the capacity for up to 150 students in the program. That will mean locating additional qualified faculty. It will also mean discussions about additional curriculum and scheduling. All of this will take place during the construction period, with the plan to have the pieces in place when the facility is complete.

What kind of job does a graduate from the RVC program get, and what can they earn? Graduates of the RVC Airframe and Powerplant program can find employment as FAA licensed entry level aircraft technicians working in the general, corporate, and commercial aviation maintenance industry. The skill sets of an Airframe and Powerplant technician are also recognized by other industries like alternative energy, robotics and medical equipment. Entry level technician starting wages range from $15 to $20 per hour with steady advancement to $30 to $40 by mid career. 

This does seem like a big deal for our community. How big is it, really? It’s big. It’s no secret that our community partners have been working to attract an Maintenance, Repair, and Overhaul (MRO) facility at our airport. As these talks continue with officials, having the skilled workforce in training or in place is critical.

This partnership is a great step for our region. Rock Valley College’s mission is to . . . “provide quality, accessible lifelong learning opportunities, cultural enrichment, and support for economic and technological development.” It’s our job to serve our students and our community to the best of our ability within our means. We’re delighted to be involved in this opportunity for significant change.