• By Todd Luck
  • Posted Friday, October 29, 2021

Forsyth Tech Aviation Lab holds its Grand Opening

Members of the Forsyth County commissioners and Smith Reynolds Airport Board helped cut the ribbon on Forsyth Technical Community College’s new Mazie S. Woodruff Aviation Technology Lab at Smith Reynolds Airport on October 26.

Located at 2739 Aviation Drive, the lab will prepare students for jobs in Maintenance Overhaul and Repair (MRO) needed by aerospace companies at Smith Reynolds Airport and around the state and country. It’s a $16 million project funded by a $65 million Forsyth Tech bond package voters overwhelmingly approved in 2016 after county commissioners voted to place it on the ballot.

“It’s going to add to the culture of our community, it’s going to add to the culture of our state.” said County Commissioner Chair Dave Plyler. “And already it’s attracting people from local regional and national areas. They want to come here They want to train. They want to be in avionics They want to be in aircraft maintenance. They want to be in the place that makes aviation possible.”

Airport Board Chair Tom McKim said Forsyth Tech is a great fit for Smith Reynolds Airport, which creates the most jobs and economic impact among the state’s 62 general aviation public airports that don't offer commercial service. That impact will only grow with $76 million in planned infrastructure improvements.

“We’re very pleased to have Forsyth Tech here, joining our very tight knit aviation community.” he said. “Forsyth Tech and its students will have a front seat to a lot of what will be happening at the airport over the next few years.”

The Aviation Lab is a two-story, 51,962 square foot building. It has a 15,356 square foot aviation hangar that can house up to eight aircraft. It also has classrooms and components labs that include sheet metal, composite structures like fiberglass and carbon fiber, avionics/electrical, paint, aircraft welding and piston/turbine engines.

Students will be able to earn associate degrees in two programs of study: Aviation Systems Technology and Aviation Electronics (Avionics). The Aviation Lab has relationships with local, state and national employers who are in constant need of aircraft maintenance and avionics. North State Aviation, which is located at Smith Reynolds Airport, has already agreed to hire three students and pay for their tuition.

Classes are projected to begin this spring. The lab has partnered with Carver High School and other high schools to encourage students to enroll in the program and develop opportunities for them to learn there.

It also hosted the Jim Shaw ACE Academy over the summer. The aviation summer camp exposes middle and high school student to potential careers in the aviation industry. The camp is held annually at Smith Reynolds Airport and was started by the late Jim Shaw, who served on the Airport Board.

The lab is named after the late Mazie Woodruff, who became the first African-American elected as a Forsyth County commissioner in 1976. Forsyth Tech’s Mazie Woodruff Center, located on Lansing Drive, is also named in her honor.

View more photos from the ribbon cutting.
View video of the ceremony.

For more information about the program, reach out to Greg Purvis, program coordinator, at 336-734-7531 or gpurvis@forsythtech.edu.

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