UDC Community College’s Aerospace Technology Program offers unique opportunities for graduates

UDC Community College’s Aerospace Technology Program offers unique opportunities for graduates

UDC Community College’s Aerospace Technology Program offers unique opportunities for graduates


Aviation Students at DCA

UDC-CC Aviation Maintenance Technology students (first-year students in left photo, seniors in right photo) work on engines and aircraft with classroom instruction in Hangar #2 at the Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport.


For some, achieving the American dream begins with completing the Aviation Maintenance Technology Program at UDC Community College (UDC-CC). After two years of classroom instruction and hands-on training, graduates receive their associate degree and earn competitive salaries in the District in a field that is in high demand.

UDC-CC’s Aerospace Technology Program offers two related paths of training in aviation: The Aviation Maintenance Technology Program (associate degree) and the Aircraft Mechanic’s Certification. Both are centered at UDC-CC’s facilities at the Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport in Hangar #2.

In existence for more than 50 years, students in the Aviation Maintenance Technology Program are not only trained to keep aircraft mechanically sound, but the opportunities for their skill set translate to other modes of transportation, including trains and vessels.

While students gain a solid academic foundation, 70 percent of the two-year program involves hands-on training at the airport. Class sizes are kept small to ensure that students can work on engines and other parts of the aircraft.

UDC-CC’s Aviation Program has partnerships with Southwest and America Airlines, and talks are underway with United Airlines. Those partnerships include opportunities for students to learn about equipment up close using donated equipment and planes.

Piedmont Airlines recently donated an engine to UDC-CC, one of only a few Historically Black Colleges & Universities with an FAA-certified Airframe & Powertrain (A&P). Piedmont’s engine is a Pratt & Whitney model and was put in storage when Piedmont retired its fleet of De Havilland DHC-8 “Dash 8” aircraft in 2018.

The airline industry has experienced shortages of skilled aircraft technicians as it recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic. Airlines are seeking out a diverse talent pool.

“The best way to learn hands-on skills is by doing hands-on practice and with a real engine,” said Bill Arndt, vice president of Maintenance and Engineering at Piedmont. “As customers begin to return to the skies and flights increase, demand for skilled airframe and powerplant mechanics will only increase. We want to show students the pathway to a maintenance career starting with a regional airline right in their back yard.”

Alusine Kanu is the program director for the Aviation Program at UDC-CC, as well as an instructor for classes including basic electricity and a course on repairing turbine engineers. Professor Kanu has worked in the aerospace industry in Sierra Leone and the U.S. with Mesa Airlines contracting with United Airlines and as a railroad Process Engineer. He is proud to say that the program is among the best, and companies are highly interested in its graduates.

“Many of our students have low incomes, and this program allows them to work their way up,” Kanu said. “Some leave the program making $40 an hour and have the potential to make more as they move up the ladder as managers. Some come back and speak to students about their success. We are confident that we are impacting our student’s future and changing their lives.”

Students in the program are between 19 to 60 years old. Those in the Aircraft Mechanic’s Certification Certificate Program can take 32 additional instruction credits and earn an Associate of Applied Science (AAS) in Aviation Maintenance Technology. The other courses are general education subjects taught on UDC-CC’s campus, including technical math, English, physics, geography, graphics and computer programming.

The FAA monitors student exam performance, attendance, and overall performance quality. The UDC-CC Aviation Maintenance Technology program provides diverse training for students to obtain initial job entry-level skills in the aircraft maintenance industry. Training includes developing knowledge and work skills in 45 areas of A&P privileges and regulations, hydraulics, electricity, electronics, metal structures, environmental systems, welding, instrumentation, composite materials, turbine and reciprocating engines, propellers and related systems.

UDC-CC Aviation professors and faculty provide students with a broad range of knowledge of modern aircraft systems. The UDC-CC Certificate of Completion allows them to take the FAA-administered exams for the A&P Certification. To earn the A&P certificate, students must pass four examinations: three written, one oral, and one practical, administered by the FAA. The written exams are currently administered at the UDC-CC airport hangar #2 CATS Testing Center.

The aviation students receive classroom instruction at the hangar and eagerly await the practical hands-on opportunities in an environment that keeps them grounded in their career preparation.

“I can’t wait to get in here every day to work with our students,” Kanu said. “I see myself as having a role to play in their lives, and I believe my instructors feel the same way.”