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The Student News Site of Sacramento City College

The Express

The Student News Site of Sacramento City College

The Express

City College Aeronautics Returns

Aeronautics students Elijah Holland (left) and James Hammer (right) synchronize the propeller timing to the ignition system on an aircraft engine at City College’s McClellan Hangar facility located at Sacramento McClellan Airport. Photo Credit: Diana Martinez / [email protected]

In March 2020, the Los Rios Community College District made a decision that would have ripple effects when it shut down its campuses. As a result of this decision, City College’s aeronautics program shut down too.

Kevin Goehring, professor and head of City College’s aeronautics department, says the two-year program is designed to train students as airframe and powerplant maintenance technicians. Students start out with a two-week introductory class before they enroll into the program. Once they have completed four semesters, they are eligible to take the Federal Aviation Administration exams in order to get their certification. 

Six months after in-person classes were shut down, the FAA issued an emergency order to allow the program to continue online.

Aeronautics is a fully hands-on program, which became a problem because of the pandemic. Because the aeronautics program required students working with airplanes and their different components, trying to switch to online learning quickly became a burden. 

One student, Harry Ansonge, describes how Goehring embraced technology and made sure to record his lectures so, when students returned a year later to do labs, they were able to catch up on what they learned. “We tried doing the lecture on Zoom, which was good, but there’s nothing like being in the classroom,” Ansonge says.

Goehring says the decision to halt aeronautics programs was devastating to both students and staff. “Unfortunately, we were only allowed to do online classes for a short period of time, then they said no more,” he says. 

They would only complete one class before closing the program completely.

For many students, this would be a huge blow. Some of the students had only been a few weeks from graduating, only to be set back because the program had to be shut down. 

Student Prabhu Raja says that even though he was only participating in the program, he could empathize with the students who were doing it for career purposes. “I’m bummed that I lost a year, but think about all these kids who were doing it for a career.”

For some of the students, their lives and future careers were put on hold. Ansonge says some of the students decided to move on because they couldn’t afford to wait until the program was opened again. Many students did not come back. 

Some students say City College could have done a better job of communicating what was happening with the program during the pandemic. Most students say they wish that City College had asked for their opinions on the matter and tried harder to take in consideration the people who were close to graduating.

“The one year that we were shut down, except for the lecturers here, we did not get any communication from the school,” Raja says.

Now that the program has opened again, students and staff say it has been a relief. “I think it’s really good that the program is back open in-person because I truly don’t see how anyone can have a successful program in an online format, It’s just too hands-on,” says student Elijah Holland. “Everybody is through the roof with excitement and working hard now that we are back in person. It’s awesome to see.”

Last month, Michelle Cook, one of the students who had been close to graduating, was able to finish the program and had recently graduated. She was planning to complete three more tests. She hopes to work for United or Hawaiian Airlines A&P Mechanic. 

The program will be continuing during the summer under the new name the Aviation Maintenance Technician program. Instead of 8 weeks of classes, there will be 4 weeks of classes.

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