A Word In Edgewise by 2nd District Commissioner Tim Norton

As copied with permission from Sedgwick County Board of County Commissioners blog written by by 2nd District Commissioner Tim Norton

August 31, 2010

Just recently, Commissioner Unruh and I had a chance to tour the National Center for Aviation Training (NCAT) at Jabara Airport. The occasion was a chance to interface with John Fernandez, Assistant Secretary of Commerce at the federal level. He was in town looking at several sites to which the Commerce Department had funded grants or other support. It was a whirlwind visit but a good chance to showcase what is fast becoming a hotbed of activity for aviation research and training and other seminars and conferences. This opportunity enabled us to make great contacts with several other Commerce Department regional representatives.

Representatives from the U.S. Dept of Commerce, Wichita City Council and Wichita City Commission members to tour NCAT.

Representatives from the U.S. Dept of Commerce, Wichita City Council and Wichita City Commission members tour NCAT. Click to view more photos.

NCAT was fully operational earlier this week and is starting to fill up with students. Approximately 500 students are now receiving training at NCAT. This number will grow exponentially in the next few years as the aviation industry rebounds and skilled workers are in even greater demand. Manufacturing programs that were incubated and functional at other satellite locations were quickly moved to the new center during the summer break. The Airframe and Powerplant programs previously located in two separate facilities are now joined in one location.

NCAT is comprised of three buildings:

  1. Gateway houses student services, career development, the assessment center and Wichita Area Technical College (WATC) administrative offices.
  2. Manufacturing Tech Center, where research and training come together, hosts WSU’s National Institute for Aviation Research (NIAR) and WATC.
  3. Aircraft Service Center houses the Manufacturing Center and the Airframe and Powerplant Center are joined by a student commons, a catering kitchen and a 200-seat auditorium. There are a total of 222,000 square feet in the facility.

Labs in the Manufacturing Center include: composites, advanced manufacturing, CATIA/CAD, welding, sheet metal, applied research, industrial electronics, CNC machining and advanced coatings. In the Airframe and Powerplant building you will find labs for the following: nondestructive inspection, avionics, power plant, propeller, airframe, welding and material testing.

At this time there are two partners at NCAT. WATC is designated as the managing partner for the campus. WATC will be responsible for developing curriculum and delivering training to meet aviation manufactures’ needs. The second partner is WSU’s NIAR led by Dr. John Tomblin who has experience in managing composite, advanced materials and mechanical testing labs. NIAR will be researching new and advanced manufacturing techniques that can be quickly integrated with aviation training at NCAT.

I am convinced that the National Center for Aviation Training will be an integral part of maintaining and fostering the future of aviation manufacturing, service and research in our community. We should all understand the importance of the aerospace industry to Sedgwick County and the region. A trained workforce will be extremely important. Partnerships with the FAA, NTSB, the Commerce Department and others will be critical to building a national presence. The research and testing that NIAR brings to the table sets the center up for being a one-of-a-kind facility that has huge capabilities to meet the needs of the aviation industry in Wichita and around the nation.

We cannot afford to discount the impact that the aviation cluster has on our community. This investment must be seen as instrumental in fostering and promoting the future of aerospace in Wichita with industry-driven workforce training, world class testing, leading edge research and a facility that is second to none in equipment, instrumentation, curriculum and connection to the leaders in aviation.

That’s all for this week. Thanks for letting me get a word in edgewise. tn

As copied from Sedgwick County Board of County Commissioners blog

Wichita Area Technical College
4004 N Webb Rd
Wichita, Kansas, 67226
Phone: 316-677-9400