Local company collaborates with Northeast State Community College

BLOUNTVILLE, Tenn. - Northeast State Community College (NeSCC) and Bell Helicopter Piney Flats have announced an educational collaboration to develop the next generation of aircraft technicians and aviation professionals.

Bell Helicopter Piney Flats training instructors will act in an advisory capacity to NeSCC regarding aviation- related course content.  In addition, members of the Bell Helicopter Piney Flats team will serve on the curriculum steering committee to assist the college in the development of an aviation-specific curriculum to provide the foundational skills for the next generation of aviation professionals.

The collaboration is the foundation of a long-term strategy to promote advanced technical training throughout the region. The College envisions this trained workforce will allow area employers to recruit from the local talent pool rather than seeking prospective employees through national staffing agencies.

The program is designed to create craftsmen with the foundational mechanical and electrical skills required in the aviation, automotive maintenance/repair, HVAC, industrial electricity and electronics industries, among others.

"Our goal is to promote aviation and aerospace education," said Dr. Janice Gilliam, President of Northeast State. "However, the curriculum provides limitless opportunities for Tennessee and the region. This program fits within Gov. Bill Haslam's Drive to 55 and Tennessee Promise initiatives to increase the number of Tennesseans with two-year and four-year degrees as well as technical certificates."

Core classes begin in the fall of 2014 with specific aviation courses offered in the spring of 2015.

The Bell Helicopter/Northeast State aviation-related program is the first objective of a regional aviation initiative and steering team founded in mid-2013. The mission of the Aviation Initiative is to promote workforce development by fostering the advancement of aviation-related skills and knowledge through collaboration of local academic institutions, civic leaders, government officials, corporations, communities, and aviation advocates.

Additional objectives will be to develop a flight school and a four-year aviation curriculum. Project partners include East Tennessee State University and the Tennessee College of Applied Technology – Elizabethton. Partnerships are to be established with area K-12+ school systems to promote aviation careers, and local and state economic development resources to attract aviation/aerospace industries.

The ceremony was held on the College's Blountville campus on June 24 at 1 p.m.

Distinguished guests included the Honorable Ron Ramsey, Tennessee Lieutenant Governor; the Honorable Bill Hagerty, Tennessee Economic and Community Development Commissioner; and Chad Nimrick, Bell Helicopter General Manager.

Program participants included Aviation Initiative Program co-founders: the Honorable Tony Shipley, Tennessee House of Representatives; Bell Helicopter Training Manager Richard Blevins; and Hank Somers. Additional program participants are NeSCC President Dr. Gilliam and staff; Wysong Enterprises; Advanced Flight Training CEO Beverly Barnett; Tri Cities Regional Airport; Bristol Tennessee City Schools; and Networks - Sullivan Partnership.

For additional program information, please contact the Northeast State Office of Admissions and Records at 800.836.7822 or admissions@NortheastState.edu. Visit http://www.driveto55.org for information about the Drive to 55 initiative.

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