Some time ago, before COVID, I visited the Moore Norman Technology Center (MNTC) campus on Franklin and 12th Avenue NW.
I did so as a new member of city council and at the invitation of center superintendent Brian Ruttman. I was impressed by the variety of courses available at the Center, and especially by the personal attention given to students (and prospective students) by counselors and administrators.
After a tour of the facilities, Brian and I began to talk about his plans for the future leadership of the MNTC. Part of this strategic plan: an aviation studies program. Brian invited me to a kickoff meeting on this topic – a meeting to look at the goals and challenges involved.
We met, then COVID hit. Fast forward to the current time.
Brian and his team have not been idle. The plans we talked about before COVID are about to materialize. The MNTC officially announced, “Get ready – Aviation classes are coming to MNTC in 2022!
I met Brian at a Chamber of Commerce meeting and he invited me back to see what “progress” looks like. I had the privilege of meeting with Mr. Lee Dow, now director of aerospace and transportation at the facility.
Lee took me on a “magic carpet ride,” including a tour of expansive new classrooms dedicated to the program and a large facility, once a bus garage, but now outfitted to replicate an outdoor maintenance shed. ‘planes. Some equipment was available (including an airplane wing); other equipment is on order.
“The project” is to offer training in sheet metal and composites (ergo, the aforementioned wing), aeronautical maintenance technician (engines: both reciprocal and turbine) and unmanned aerial systems (drones). Unmanned systems are of particular interest, due to applications in agriculture and in hazardous materials situations.
The lesson plans are under development. Most important: Lee and the staff are in close coordination with the Federal Aviation Agency, whose certification must be obtained before the start of the courses. Program plans should support a class size of approximately 75 students. and as with so many MNTC programs, the Center will help place graduates into jobs – liaison with staff at Tinker Air Force Base has already started.
While touring the aviation classrooms, I was introduced to Mr. Jerry McConnell, MNTC Director of Public Safety. Jerry was bubbling with enthusiasm at the new initiatives in police and firefighter training.
It appears MNTC has purchased an area on 12th Avenue NW and is developing it into a training lab for first responders. Jerry recently escorted representatives from the Norman and Moore fire departments to an integrated facility in Owasso, and reported the plans for that facility to Norman.
Discussions between the Norman police and firefighters, as well as representatives from Moore and Cleveland County, are underway, hopefully leading to integrated training at the MNTC. In the case of Norman, this will relieve the local services of a heavy training load (especially with regard to the staff dedicated to training).
In addition to classrooms, the new 12th Avenue NW complex will include roads (police car maneuvers), several buildings of different construction (police and firefighters can benefit from) and a training tower for firefighting applications. high rise in firefighting and evacuations (the current Westheimer training tower is obsolete).
This new training complex will be built in several phases, starting in the coming months. A training platform for heavy vehicle drivers is available at very short notice, directly across from Norman North High School. It was intended to provide training for students pursuing commercial driving licenses, but will serve as a training center for firefighters, who currently train on the streets of the Norman town.
Brian Ruttman is a true visionary, complemented by a dynamic and hard-working staff. The actions of these dedicated educators will directly contribute to Norman’s economic health and growth by providing qualified technicians for growing industries, while ensuring quality education and hands-on experience for first responders.
Good neighbors, in every sense of the word.
Bill Scanlon is a former Ward 6 City Council member who volunteers with the Norman Police Department and the Norman Fire Department, and serves on several town committees. Prior to his work at Norman, Scanlon served 26 years in the US Air Force – where he last worked as Chief of Mission Analysis under the Deputy Chief of Staff of the Air Force, Studies and Analyzes at the Pentagon – and worked for Northrop Grumman in Washington DC