Students build Urbana airplane parts, learn job skills

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

caption arrowCaption
Students build airplane parts at Grimes Airport

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

A program at Grimes Airport in Urbana that teaches students how to build airplane parts is growing in popularity.

Students from Champaign, Logan and Union counties can participate in the program, offered by the Ohio Hi-Point Career Center.

It draws students interested in aviation, instructor Frank Drain said, but the skills learned in class can apply to several career paths.

>>RELATED: Chinese film crew to visit aviation museum in Urbana

“You’re learning to solve problems,” he said. “You might not ever work with sheet metal again, but can you have a problem, read the directions, and figure out how to solve it?”

Students can sign up for the program beginning their freshman year, he said, but senior and junior students get the opportunity to work at Grimes Airport and build parts of a B-17 airplane and other aircraft to be displayed at the museum.

The program began 11 years ago, he said, with just two students. This school year more than 80 students are participating in aviation classes.

It’s a great way for students to get hands-on experience, he said, which can be a more effective way of learning for some students.

“They don’t like sitting in class,” he said. “They want to get up and do things.”

>>READ MORE: Champaign County promotes manufacturing to students as workforce ages

Senior Blake Kalb said he’s learned much more since moving from the classroom to the workshop.

“On paper I learn a lot, but once you get past paper to hands-on stuff…that’s when you really start to learn stuff in my opinion,” he said.

Kalb plans to study aviation after graduating, he said, and many of his classmates plan to do the same or join the military.

“I feel like I have a big head start in this class,” Kalb said. “I already have a lot of it down.”

But for students who don’t plan to pursue a career in aviation, Drain said, those hands-on skills will set them apart from other job applicants.

“They don’t get exposed to that anymore,” he said.

The skills could also transfer well for the many open manufacturing jobs across the Miami Valley.

Drain hopes to attract more students to the program, he said, especially girls, who rarely sign up now.

About the Author