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New aviation maintenance technician program prepares for takeoff next year at Cuesta College

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Posted at 6:36 PM, Aug 19, 2022
and last updated 2022-08-20 00:24:39-04

A new aviation maintenance technician program at Cuesta College is preparing for take-off next year thanks to a new partnership with ACI Jet.

This new aviation mechanic program will start in January and is roughly 18 months long. Students who take part in the program will be licensed for a career in aviation technology.

“It's funny, we have all these things you can dream of if you wanted to start aerospace businesses but we were missing the most basic component of men and women who can actually fix these things and put them together," said ACI Jet CEO Bill Borgsmiller.

That’s where a first-of-its-kind program at Cuesta College comes in. It’s set to create a career pipeline for local students interested in aviation mechanics.

“They start $60,000 a year, they are really family-sustaining jobs in aviation maintenance. So there are technology positions, avionics, drone maintenance, and repair," explained Dr. Jill Stearns, Cuesta College Superintendent/President.

Stearns says they have three introduction-level classes to the program right now. She said a program like this will provide hands-on experience and early career exposure with an aircraft set aside specifically for these students.

“There is interest in high schoolers who are looking to come to Cuesta, there’s interest among our existing students, and there’s even interest in our senior citizens in our community," Stearns said.

To get a program like this started Cuesta College, Stearns says it costs $1.5 million.

That’s where outside help comes in with funding coming from different sources including the San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors and ACI Jet each offering $500,000 to help launch the program.

“This money came out of all things of the SB 1090 funds. Those funds are the ones we received from the potential closure of Diablo Canyon," said Dawn Ortiz-Legg, District 3 County Supervisor.

ACI Jet told KSBY a career in aviation mechanics can include work in a large variety of industries that involve airplanes, helicopters, and even elevators and amusement parks.