College to help train pilots, staff from China
A Tennessee college will partner with a new school in China to help the country meet the demand for aviation professionals.
Sidney McPhee, president of Middle Tennessee State University (MTSU), opened negotiations with Jiangsu Aviation Technical College in Jiangsu province after a visit to the fledgling school last month.
“Our aviation/aerospace program is arguably one of the best in the US,” McPhee said in an interview. “We look forward to working with Jiangsu Aviation Technical College to help China train its next generation of pilots, air traffic controllers and aircraft mechanics.”
China’s central government is expected to open the general aviation space to private enterprise, which will create a demand for aerospace facilities and trained personnel. Jiangsu officials anticipate as many as 500 airports will be built in the next five years and more than 3,000 within 10 years.
Brian Foley, an aviation industry consultant in the US, said many have predicted explosive aviation growth in the mainland for 30 years. “Given the reality of the worldwide economy, it will realistically be a more moderate growth than some are predicting. However, this is not necessarily a bad thing since in the long run moderate growth will be more sustainable than overheated growth,” he wrote in an email.
Foley said China will require more professionals trained in aviation specialties. “Personnel must increase in proportion to the growing fleet of aircraft. As an example there is a current need for experienced mechanics, pilots and skilled factory technicians that will continue for years,” he added.
MTSU offers bachelor’s and master’s degrees in aviation/ aerospace studies that have about 600-800 students. “We are preparing to graduate our first class in a new program for unmanned aerial systems (drones),” McPhee said.
Jiangsu Aviation Technical College will open this fall with an enrollment of 600 students and six aerospace degree programs. The central government built the campus to handle many times that initial enrollment in a large area located in an aerospace research park.
McPhee said the partnership will include a combination of reciprocal exchanges for students, faculty and administrators between the two schools. He toured several of the new college’s facilities, including a Boeing 737 cabin simulator that will be used to train students on passenger safety and service.
MTSU has exchange programs with other Chinese colleges. McPhee said about 200 Chinese students are studying on the MTSU campus.
Middle Tennessee State University is in Murfreesboro, about 34 miles south of Nashville, the state capital. The school has an enrollment of about 23,000 students.
Jiangsu is a coastal Chinese province north of Shanghai with a population of nearly 80 million.
Officials from the newly created Jiangsu Aviation Technical College in Zhenjiang, East China’s Jiangsu province, show Middle Tennessee State University President Sidney McPhee a Boeing 737 cabin simulator during a tour in July. The simulator will be used for student training when the institution opens this fall.