Kestrel Aircraft, WITC Partner to Make Composite Aviation Tech. Program

By KBJR News 1

February 12, 2013 Updated Feb 12, 2013 at 7:28 PM CDT

Superior, WI (NNCNOW.com) - Following Mayor Hagen's joint proclamation stressing the importance of technical colleges in the effort to minimize a growing workforce skills gap, Kestrel Aircraft CEO Alan Klapmeier announced that WITC and Kestrel have partnered to develop the state's first aviation program based on composite technology.

It's the same technology that is required for the construction of Kestrel's single–engine aircraft.

While Klapmeier says he hopes to hire many future employees from WITC, he says the program is not just about aviation.

"It's about technical skills, education, [and] a good foundation—a foundation that can then take them into lost of different directions," said Klapmeier during Tuesday's conference.

According to WITC officials, nine out of 10 graduates of Wisconsin technical colleges are employed within six months of graduation, and experience a 48 percent salary increase in the first five years of employment. Nine out of 10 also stay within the state.

It's these figures that Klapmeier says are often overlooked by the public.

"But what they don't realize is that's part of the link in the chain that makes the economy work," said Klapmeier.

The program, which needed to be built from the ground up, was made possible by a $600,000 Wisconsin Covenant Grant, and come September, WITC will be starting the first class of 20 participants in our composite technology technician program.

The composite, carbon fiber–based materials that WITC students will learn to manufacture will be directly utilized by the Superior–based company.

"One of the key things that the students will learn at these basic levels is to respect the material," said Kestrel COO/EVP and Product Development lead Steve Serfling.

And WITC isn't done growing yet. Come fall, students will have an additional three new programs to choose from.

On Wednesday, WITC will hold an open house from 2 to 5 PM for anyone interested in their programs.

- Posted to the Web by Billy Wagness