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First Students Welcomed to Tulsa Tech Aerospace Academy

Matt Trotter

The first class in an aviation and aerospace vocational program has arrived at Tulsa Tech.

Tulsa Tech Superintendent and CEO Steve Tiger said the new program will benefit from industry partnerships.

"Job shadowing, mentoring, apprenticeship programs — we also want to integrate some of the newer technologies within the aerospace field, such as drone technology, facets of aerospace industry that are going to be exciting to young people," Tiger said.

Bailey Siegfried with Nordam said many companies are looking to it to fill a work force gap.

"Having the curiosity to pursue anything in aviation broadens the opportunity for the students as well as the industry," Siegfried said.

Jacob Silcox from Edison is one of those students. He has a preliminary course plotted out.

"I would like to be like a personal private pilot for my uncle," Silcox said. "So, like, commercial, not any airline or anything, but I would just do a little something."

Students attend the aerospace academy full time and can graduate high school early.

Local leaders welcome the inaugural class to the Tulsa Tech Aerospace Academy. Tulsa Mayor Dewey Bartlett spearheaded efforts to start a high school aviation and aerospace program.

Based on programs in other cities, he has high hopes for this one.

"In Seattle, that particular institution started off with 40 kids in a building that was slated to be torn down," Bartlett said. "Now, they have their own facility, about a $30 million school that was just dedicated two years ago, and it holds 650 students."

Bartlett toured the Seattle program and a few others while Tulsa’s was being built. There are fewer than 20 students in the Tulsa Tech program right now.

Matt Trotter joined KWGS as a reporter in 2013. Before coming to Public Radio Tulsa, he was the investigative producer at KJRH. His freelance work has appeared in the Los Angeles Times and on MSNBC and CNN.