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Engine donation to power college’s Aviation Maintenance Technology Program
Photos and Story by James Hill
Portland Community College has been gifted a $300,000 Williams International turbofan engine for its Aviation Maintenance Technology Program.
The 14-inch in diameter engine is a FJ33-4A model turbofan engine used on the Cirrus Vision and Diamond D-Jet planes. It is similar to engines that power larger commercial aircraft. The engine burns fuel in a small set of turbines, expands the gas inside and pushes it out the back. Staff said that the engine will help students get accustomed to scoping mechanical parts to spot defects or cracks.
“This will significantly help our students,” said Marshall Pryor, faculty chair of the program. “The average age of the aircraft we use on the floor here for instructional purposes is 40 years old and we need to update that. We are hoping this donation will prompt others to think about donating more modern equipment.”
Established in 1969, the Aviation Maintenance Technology Program prepares 32 students annually to enter the mechanical repair side of the aviation industry. With a pipeline to job training and federal approval by the Federal Aviation Administration, students learn up-to-date curriculum that enables them to graduate in less than two years. Based at the college’s Rock Creek Campus (17705 N.W. Springville Road), the program relies on donations like this from the aviation industry to assist in student learning.
The gift was made possible thanks to several PCC alumni who worked together to find the engine a home at PCC. The engine, a prototype made in 2007, couldn’t get to full power due to an unknown issue. Students can now analyze the engine to troubleshoot and help repair it. The donation was made through the PCC Foundation, which mobilizes private support for student scholarships and educational programs at the college.“We are very grateful for this generous donation,” said Sandra Fowler-Hill, Rock Creek Campus president. “Hands-on experience training with this turbofan engine will better prepare our students to meet the needs of the region’s aviation workforce.” For the Aviation Maintenance Technology Program, aircraft and aviation parts are needed to keep students up to date with the current aviation equipment and tools. The Rock Creek shop has turbine engines, turbo props and fans, and older pure jet engines. However, these wear out over time and instructors need to be able to replace them with equipment that students will see out in their real-world jobs.
“This donation is the only example of a pure turbofan engine that we have that’s modern,” Pryor added. “What we will do is have the students inspect it. Because of the high temperature and the low tolerance for high precision that it has to have, you have to do a lot of borescope inspections inside to make sure there aren’t nicks and cracks on the blades or stretching of parts.”
The Aviation Maintenance Technology Program operates a modern, 30,000 square-foot, two-hangar complex with 16 aircraft used exclusively for instruction, including five helicopters. The program utilizes an advisory committee composed of industry professionals that meets semi-annually to reassess the curriculum. The program also assists students in finding internships with companies like Boeing, which recently hired 11 of the 14 interns it had from PCC.
A strong pipeline also exists between PCC and Hillsboro Aero Academy, based at the Hillsboro Airport. The majority of mechanics at the company are PCC grads, including its Director of Maintenance Seth Hansen. Because his company relies on PCC for qualified workers, he sits on the program’s advisory committee to ensure students get the right kind of training.
“It’s good to get feedback from the industry,” Hansen said. “Anywhere we can give feedback, whatever relationship we can build with the college, is good since we do hire so many graduates.”
For more details on the program, call (971) 722-7256.