Aiming for the Skies – Avionics Program Is Soaring at Broward College

Despite the challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic, the aviation industry has begun its slow recovery. At Broward College, students training to pursue a career opportunity in aviation have not stopped, even as the College has functioned in a remote capacity since March. If anything, the Industry, Manufacturing, Construction and Transportation (IMCT) pathway has been hard at work to provide students with the training necessary to give them a competitive edge when entering the workforce.

The local aviation industry is crucial to our economy, as it represents a yearly $4 billion in revenue to Broward County. According to the Greater Fort Lauderdale Alliance (GFLA), Florida ranks second in the nation for the number of aviation, aerospace, and space establishments, which means that demand for talent in the field is high in the region.

"South Florida has the third-largest cluster of workers in the aviation industry in the United States, only behind Dallas and Atlanta. The aviation industry employs 46,000 people in South Florida, with many high-paying jobs and salaries above average for Broward County," says Ron Drew, executive vice president of GFLA.

A Soaring Industry

Avionics, the field of those who train to troubleshoot, install, and repair all aviation electronics equipment within an aircraft, is among the aviation industry's high-wage occupations. Avionics technicians across the U.S. will continue to be in high demand despite the current state of aviation due to COVID-19. Even if airplanes are dormant, proper maintenance is still required. Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) shows that in 2019, avionics technicians had a median hourly wage of $32.20. Employment opportunities in the industry are projected to grow 5 percent through 2029.

The Sky is the Limit

Broward College has built on the existing programs in the sector, adding programs parallel to the current industry's standards to meet this demand. The avionics program and its students will benefit from this and other investments, such as the expansion of training facilities with a new hangar and modular classroom.

The avionics and aviation maintenance programs at the College are some of the most sought-after among incoming students in the pathway. "For the past several years, our aviation maintenance program has had a waitlist. We have more demand than the capacity to serve students," says Russell McCaffery, dean, Transportation programs. Because of the high demand, a hangar to serve avionics and aviation maintenance students has been built at the Emil A. Buehler Aviation Institute on the Judson A. Samuels South Campus. The construction was funded through generous donations from the Jerry Taylor and Nancy Bryant Foundation, the Emil Buehler Perpetual Trust, and the Batchelor Foundation.

The new hangar is part of the College's efforts to enhance its training and curriculum. It goes along with the recent acquisition of the Airbus Competence Trainer (ACT) for Academy Solution software, allowing students to simulate endless training scenarios within the Airbus A320 aircraft, one of the most popular commercial aircraft.

"Employers that hire our graduates do so because they are aware of the outstanding training they receive. With the addition of the new hangar, our students will be even more knowledgeable and even more skilled in their hands-on training, which will give them a competitive edge when looking for great jobs in the industry," says Johan Alvarez, the newly-appointed District Director for Avionics.

The hangar's official opening will be commemorated through an online broadcast in November as part of National Aviation History Month celebrations.

The Emil Buehler Aviation Institute at Broward College is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and School Commission on Colleges. The state-of-the-art facility provides students with the desired employment skills for a successful career in aviation.