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Pittsburgh Institute of Aeronautics' campus to hold open house

Saturday's event will be open to anyone seriously interested in enrolling and their families

February 09, 2011|By HEATHER KEELS | heather.keels@herald-mail.com

Prospective students will be able to tour the Pittsburgh Institute of Aeronautics' new Hagerstown campus Saturday at an open house scheduled for 10 a.m.

The school, in Top Flight Air Park near Hagerstown Regional Airport, remains on schedule to begin its first class April 29, PIA Director James Mader said.

The school will offer a 16-month, aviation-maintenance-technician diploma program.

PIA will accept 25 students in its first class and has received more than 25 applications, Mader said.

However, the school must wait until it receives all of its final licensing approvals before officially admitting any students, he said.

The school has preliminary approvals, but must have a final on-site inspection after all of its equipment is in place to become licensed by the Maryland Higher Education Commission, the Federal Aviation Administration and the Accrediting Commission for Career Schools and Colleges, Mader said.

"That probably won't happen until several weeks before the start of class," he said. "It's just the nature of the way things go."

Until then, anyone interested may still apply, because spots may open up in the first class due to financial aid delays or other issues, Mader said.

Additional classes will begin every four months, he said.

Saturday's event will be open to anyone seriously interested in enrolling and their families. Officials are expecting about 150 people to attend, he said.

"It's something that we normally do at our other campuses for prospective students," Mader said. "The only contact they've had with us up to this point is via phone calls or e-mails, and those who are truly interested, we like to get them together and just spend a few hours with them on a Saturday morning or afternoon and explain to them what the program is really going to entail, (and) give them an opportunity to meet with some of the staff members."

To be admitted to the program, applicants must have a high school diploma or General Educational Development certificate and must demonstrate strong math skills on an entrance exam, Mader has said.

The program consists of 16 months of full-time training, with about half in the classroom and the other half in labs, he said.

Upon graduation, students will be qualified to take FAA exams to become certified airframe and powerplant technicians.

The starting pay for A&P technicians varies from about $15 an hour to about $35 an hour, Mader said.

PIA officials expect many of the graduates of the Hagerstown campus to fill openings at aviation businesses based at Hagerstown Regional Airport, such as AgustaWestland and Sierra Nevada Corp., Mader has said.

PIA is leasing space at the air park and has renovated the building to include two classrooms, four offices and a large, open shop area.

"This is the first time we'll be able to bring people in and have the majority of our equipment on site," he said.

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