National Center for Aviation Training
In order to assure a steady pipeline of qualified workers for the regional aerospace and advanced manufacturing industries, Sedgwick County Technical Education & Training Authority developed the $50 million (224,000 square foot) National Center for Aviation Training. NCAT is a world-class aviation and advanced general manufacturing training center on the grounds of Jabara Airport in northeast Wichita. NCAT has capacity to provide technical training for at least 1,500 students in both day and night classes. WSU Tech serves as managing partner and coordinates course offerings. NCAT training is employer-driven to flexibly adapt to industry needs. NCAT facilities allow realistic hands-on training on the latest equipment in aviation and advanced manufacturing, including a composites materials lab and an autoclave for heat-curing aviation plastics.
NCAT also incorporates new facilities for Wichita State University's National Institute for Aviation Research. NIAR provides applied aerospace research in such areas as composites and advanced materials, CAD-CAM and advanced joining technology. NIAR has been named an FAA Center of Excellence for Advanced Materials and a NASA National Center for Advanced Materials Performance. NCAT-NIAR partnership allows NIAR to develop new materials and techniques in the lab and then rapidly train workers in how to use them. This combination of NIAR research expertise and high-tech training facilities expedites bringing new technologies to the factory production floor.
NCAT facilities include three buildings: Advanced Manufacturing Technology Center, Aviation Service Center and the Assessment and Administration Center or “Gateway Building” for admissions, student services and employment placement. To meet the critical need for skilled aviation workers, programs include:
NCAT has received Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) approval. Groundbreaking occurred in March 2008, and classes at the site began in August 2010. All NCAT programs are now active. The Aviation Maintenance Technician program is operating at full capacity with 240 students in the 18-month program. It is the fourth largest school of its kind in the United States. Manufacturing Specialist Certification was launched in 2006, with a sheet metal assembly component attached to the short-term training. Between NCAT's aviation building and advanced manufacturing building, an entire business jet could be made from design to finish. NCAT is the centerpiece and headquarters of WSU Tech. WSU Tech / NCAT is leading a consortium of community colleges in developing industry-standard aviation manufacturing training curricula.