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San Joaquin Valley College Blog

Aviation Campus in Fresno Celebrates 20 Years

August 19, 2011
A fly’s eye view of the Aviation Campus’ hangar at the Fresno Yosemite Airport.

In 1991 gas was $1.12 per gallon, the average monthly rent was $495 and air travel was peaking, as travelers clamored to enjoy the benefits of a price war among major airlines. Lots of jets were in the air and it seemed good timing for San Joaquin Valley College to introduce an Aviation Maintenance Technology career training program to the Fresno area with a campus located at the Fresno Yosemite International Airport.

Twenty years later the campus is maintaining a student population of around 90 and has plenty to celebrate.

“The biggest change we’ve seen at this campus in the past few years is a wonderful and steady increase in both our student population and the aviation industry’s demand for licensed mechanics,” says Jack Macfarlane, Campus Director. “Also, in addition to extensive preparation for the A&P (airframe and powerplant) license, all of our graduates earn an Associate of Science degree, which employers feel is a definite advantage.”

In sharp contrast to the campus’s 20-year anniversary celebration, at its 10-year mark the aviation industry was experiencing its darkest days in the aftermath of September 11, 2001.

“Many planes were grounded and companies weren’t hiring anyone,” says Macfarlane. “Now, however, companies such as SkyWest Airlines, the college’s biggest employer, continually hire from our pool of well prepared graduates.”

Susan Smilie-Janecek, Director of Research and Development has been with SJVC for over 22 years now.

“The biggest change is that we have gone from struggling to get companies to interview and hire our graduates, to major employers “preferring” to hire our graduates from the aviation maintenance technician program,” says Smilie-Janecek.

Today, SkyWest remains a top employer with over 70 SJVC graduates hired over the years.

SJVC’s Aviation Campus invited students, staff and faculty to enjoy cake and refreshments and take a moment to revel in 20 years of success and an industry still going strong.

“The culture of the campus has remained committed to success and professionalism for our students and graduates. I am proud to represent our College in the aviation community,” says Janecek.

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