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WSU Tech Offering Scholarships To Laid Off Aviation Workers

Nicole Grimes

WSU Tech announced it will offer scholarships to workers laid off because of the grounding of the Boeing 737 Max.

The scholarships will cover the cost of tuition and fees. WSU Tech says the program will give workers the opportunity to gain new skills or finish their degrees while seeking new work. 

The scholarships were announced Friday at the National Center for Aviation Training.

Classes at WSU Tech are six to eight weeks long, and a new session starts in March. Some of the subjects being taught include machining basics, aerospace paint, composite fabrication, electrical assembly and welding.

The program is funded by WSU Tech and community donations, like a $10,000 gift from the Wichita Aero Club.

“We want to provide every opportunity we can for you to stay in Wichita and ride the storm out,” WSU Tech president Sheree Utash said, referring to laid-off workers.

“The main thing is to try to retain people here, upscale them, get them a different job, keep them as part of our community so that they can go back to work when that time comes.”

According to Utash, despite the 737 Max grounding and the subsequent layoffs at Spirit AeroSystems and other local aviation suppliers, enrollment at WSU Tech is up.

The 737 Max was grounded last year following two fatal crashes. It represents the bulk of the work done at Spirit and also provides significant work to smaller suppliers in the area. Spirit laid off 2,800 employees last month.

Robert Tallie, a WSU Tech graduate who says he was laid off by Spirit, thinks the program will help.

“I can’t tell you enough how much love I feel from this program, the WSU Tech community,” he said. “To me, this is the best place in the world for me to be right now.”

WSU Tech also provides coaching and mentoring for those trying to find new employment.

For more information on the scholarship program, go to WSU Tech's website.

Nicole Grimes is an intern in the KMUW News Lab.