Christmas in McKinley Park

Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker lauds the choice of the Aviation Institute of Maintenance to locate in Chicago's McKinley Park neighborhood during the campus grand opening on Wednesday, September 15, 2021.

Political Luminaries Unveil McKinley Park Aviation Campus at Ribbon-Cutting

Published September 16, 2021

The largest aviation maintenance school in the United States received a warm welcome at the ribbon-cutting ceremony for the new Chicago campus of the Aviation Institute of Maintenance (AIM) on Wednesday, September 15, 2021.

 
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A host of local and state officials gathered in the cavernous aircraft hangar training area at the McKinley Park neighborhood school to celebrate the new campus at 3711 S. Ashland Ave., Chicago, and note its importance to local and state economies.

 
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"By choosing McKinley Park, AIM is generating opportunities in a historically underserved neighborhood," said Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker. "Today, we are celebrating a powerful step. The sky is the limit."

Regional Benefit

Tyreq Brandy, a student continuing his education from the City Colleges of Chicago's Olive-Harvey College, will be among the first graduates of the Aviation Institute of Maintenance's new Chicago campus.Tyreq Brandy, a student continuing his education from the City Colleges of Chicago's Olive-Harvey College, will be among the first graduates of the Aviation Institute of Maintenance's new Chicago campus.U.S. Representative Marie Newman said she "bursts with pride" that McKinley Park is the site of the new institute. "This is the right place for this to be," she said.

Newman noted how AIM provides opportunities for well-paying careers and job creation throughout the region. "This provides a road to economic stability in all our neighborhoods."

John Holmes, the president of aviation services giant AAR, cited the extreme demand for mechanics as a driver to get his company directly involved with advocating for an aviation maintenance school in Chicago.

Hiring Big Time

"The need is tremendous," he said. "We feel that shortage of talent every day."

 
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"We're hiring, big time," Holmes said.

Brandon Nichols, the vice president of academic affairs at City Colleges of Chicago, said the colleges' partnership with AIM and local high schools makes well-paying careers in the trades accessible to Chicago students. This includes high school students accessing college-level trades courses at no cost, but receiving transferrable credits for the work.

Pause and Work

"We're building a pipeline," Nichols said, citing these "stackable credentials" that let students learn through the course of an aviation career, up to and including management-level education through partners like Southern Illinois University and its School of Aviation.

 
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Nichols also noted how an aviation career allows flexibility for students, who can step aside from education into well-paying jobs and then return at any point to pursue further certifications and degrees. "There are many opportunities to pause and work," he said.

Aviation Institute of Maintenance Executive Vice President Dr. Joel English cuts the ribbon to celebrate the grand opening of the school's new Chicago campus on Wednesday, September 15, 2021.Aviation Institute of Maintenance Executive Vice President Dr. Joel English cuts the ribbon to celebrate the grand opening of the school's new Chicago campus on Wednesday, September 15, 2021.Additional speakers and ceremony participants included Sylvia Garcia, director of the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, World Business Chicago CEO Michael Fassnacht, City Colleges of Chicago Chancellor Juan Salgado and Illinois 2nd District Representative Theresa Mah.

 
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Classes Start Sept. 27

As previously reported here in the McKinley Park News, AIM's new Chicago campus expects to fill 40 full-time positions by the end of 2021 and employ a total of 75 full-time workers by the end of 2022. Although the campus will have the capacity to educate up to 1,200 students at once, AIM expects about 500 concurrent students by the end of the first two years.

The first students at AIM's new Chicago campus will begin study on September 27, said AIM Executive Vice President Dr. Joel English. "We're going to improve business while we improve community," he said.

 
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