Education

Pittsburgh Institute of Aeronautics Expands Its Vienna Campus

VIENNA TOWNSHIP, Ohio – The campus director of the Pittsburgh Institute of Aeronautics campus at Youngstown-Warren Regional Airport expects enrollment by January will be 50% above levels a year ago.

That’s growth the campus can handle, thanks to completion of an expansion to its hangar here.

Officials with PIA joined local officials Wednesday to cut the ribbon on the $1.3 million project, which added 8,500 square feet to the 5,000-square-foot space PIA already had.

The campus at the regional airport — one of three that PIA operates in addition to its main campus in West Mifflin, Pa. – opened in 2006.

“We have grown over the years,” remarked Suzanne Markle, president and CEO of PIA.

“We needed a facility that would allow us to do our part to meet the demand nationwide for aircraft maintenance technicians,” she said. “We decided to expand the campus, invest in the Youngstown facility and be able to serve the students in the Youngstown area.”

The expansion and renovation provides more space for classrooms and administrative offices as well as new welding and paint shops that should give students “ more practical experience” in those areas, campus director Joe Deramo.

“The industry is really driving it,” he said. Recently, aviation giant Boeing projected more than 118,000 aviation technicians would be needed in North America n the next few years.

The improved campus will serve as the Mahoning Valley’s “platform for aircraft maintenance training,” Markle said. She thanked her predecessor, the late John Graham III, for his vision that such a complex could be successful here “and for his steadfast interest in and support of this project.”

John Moliterno, executive director of the Western Reserve Port Authority, which oversees the airport and provided bond financing for the project, called the improved campus a “tremendous move forward” for students.

“What’s taken place here is a true partnership,” he said.

Enrollment already is 35% above last year and by January Deramo said he expects it to reach 50% higher, taking enrollment to just more than 100 students.

Many students entertain several job offers by the time they graduate, he added.

Tyler Slabaugh, of Stockbridge, Ga., started at PIA in 2016. He is talking with potential employers including Delta Airlines and Endeavor Air, a Delta subsidiary.

“Aviation was an interest growing up,” he said. His father also was a PIA graduate, he said.

The campus has six instructors plus administrative staff, Deramo said, and occasionally draws guest instructors from the main PIA campus.

While most students want to work on larger commercial aircraft, the campus gets some who are more interested in general aviation, and even pilots who want to learn to do their own repairs and maintenance.

“General Electric is a big employer” of PIA’s students, Deramo said.

An agreement is near that would increase PIA’s relationship with Delta that would provide continuing education to instructors about upgrades to navigation systems and other new technology.

“I just got the contract this morning,” he reported.

Under that agreement, Delta would guarantee job interviews with the airline or its carriers and open its human resources division to students.

The carrier also wants to provide an MD-88 for student training. “It’s huge. It won’t even fit in this building,” he said.

Pictured at top: Suzanne Markle, president and CEO of the Pittsburgh Institute of Aeronautics, and Joseph DeRamo, Vienna campus director.

Published by The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.