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Cool college class project: Build a single-engine airplane

July 27, 2019

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — Some Omaha community college students are putting their sheet metal lessons to work building an airplane.

The Metropolitan Community College students, two or more at a time, work on the plane four hours a day, five days a week for five weeks. Then another set of students takes over. They get 100 hours of training in basic skills, Metro workforce training manager Sam Dickson told the Omaha World-Herald .

The program is part of the Nebraska Community College Gap Assistance Program, which provides short-term training for people who are seeking a job or career. They can discover whether sheet metal, fiber optics, automotive or other work or trade appeals to them.

“It gives them an idea if that’s what they really want to do,” said Doug Klug, training coordinator of the Sheet Metal Workers Local 3, a union that works with the college on the program.

Most of the classes, for which tuition and other expenses are covered by state lottery money, are not-for-credit courses. The “Gap” in the program name refers in part to the gap in financial aid that typically exists for noncredit courses. The term also refers to the gap between the number of workers available in some fields versus the higher number needed.

The training class is “a big opportunity for me,” said Armon Robinson, 20, a part-time supermarket worker.

“I’m going through that process where I need to figure out what I’m going to do,” he said.

The students are assembling a kit for a Van’s RV-12, a two-seat propeller aircraft. The engine comes already built. The kit cost about $95,000, about half of which the federal government funded and the remainder was covered by the college.

Tom Pensabene, a college associate vice president, said it’s not merely an experimental aircraft. The Federal Aviation Administration will inspect it, he said, and it will fly.

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Information from: Omaha World-Herald, http://www.omaha.com

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