TECT Aerospace and Cowley College create registered apprenticeship program

Front row, from left, Diann Green, Workforce Alliance of South Central Kansas; Chad Hoheisel, General Manager TECT Aerospace; Linda Coleman, TECT Aerospace director of human resources; and Dr. Tina Grillot, Cowley College associate vice president for workforce and community education. Back row, from left, Rick Rosenjack, president TECT Aerospace; Jan Grace, Cowley College Campus Operations Officer,  Kelly Cravens, HR Generalist TECT Aerospace; Mary Anne Szczepanski, Kansas Works; Lacey Keleher, Kansas Works; Cowley president Dr. Dennis C. Rittle, and Cowley College vice president of academic affairs Dr. Michelle Schoon.

TECT Aerospace and Cowley College signed an agreement for the TECT Aerospace Registered Apprenticeship Program for Machinists on Tuesday at Cowley College’s Sumner Campus Technology and Innovation Center in Wellington. 

The TECT Aerospace Registered Apprenticeship Program is only the 5th such apprenticeship program for machinists in the state of Kansas.

Cowley becomes the first college in the state to provide the required related technical instruction for a machinist apprenticeship.

A little over a year ago, Dr. Tina Grillot, Cowley College associate vice president for workforce and community education, and Linda Coleman, TECT Aerospace director of human resources, began working on a vision that has come to fruition with the announcement of the TECT Aerospace Registered Apprenticeship Program for Machinists. This program is now certified by the Kansas Registered Apprenticeship Council through the Kansas Department of Commerce and signifies only the fifth apprenticeship program for machinists in the state of Kansas.

“This is an important day for TECT Aerospace, Cowley College and the Wellington Community,” Coleman said. “Special thanks to Dr. Tina Grillot for her work on the curriculum, and to Diann Gregg, Workforce Alliance of South Central Kansas, Inc. for guiding us through the apprenticeship process with the state. We are excited for the future.”

The machinist apprenticeship program will provide each participating TECT employee with a nationally recognized apprenticeship credential and 25 hours of college credit, obtained through a two-year program that includes 4,000 hours of on the job training and just over 400 hours of classroom instruction. Because this apprenticeship also ties wage increases to on-the-job learning, the apprentice machinist can quickly progress to an attractive wage over the two-year period.

TECT Aerospace will benefit through the rapid training of brand new machinists entering its workforce to support its company as they continue to grow.

TECT Aerospace has invested significantly in the community over the past several years – both in purchase and installation of new equipment, addition of new employees and through its support of the new Cowley Sumner Campus in Wellington.

“No longer does an employee in the Wellington community need to travel to Wichita to take advantage of technical training opportunities,” Coleman said. “An exciting career, training and excellent wages are available through TECT Aerospace right here in Wellington.”

Chad Hoheisel, General Manager of TECT Aerospace in Wellington, shared in the excitement about the Registered Apprenticeship Program for Machinists partnership with Cowley.

“The biggest thing is we are excited about the youth and getting them into a skilled workforce,” Hoheisel said. “We have a lot of legacy equipment and older, more skilled employees, but we really need to be working on developing that next generation of employees and that’s what this brings for us. We are excited to work with Cowley College to bring this next generation of machinists to the workforce.”

TECT Aerospace manufactures complex aerostructure components, parts and assemblies from the full spectrum of traditional and aerospace alloys. They specialize in complex, structural and mechanical assemblies, machined components, and sheet metal fabrication for countless aerospace applications. The company currently produces thousands of machined parts and assemblies that are used in many types of aerospace structures, including fuselage and interior structures, doors, wings, landing gear, struts & nacelles, and cockpit window frames.

Keith Lawing, President and CEO of Workforce Alliance of South Central Kansas, said TECT Aerospace’s apprenticeship program is a great example of an employer designed solution to increasing the skillset of its available workforce.

“We look forward to an expanded partnership between TECT Aerospace, Cowley College and the Workforce Centers of South Central Kansas,” Lawing said.

The Cowley Business & Industry department was recently restructured and renamed as Workforce & Community Education. Grillot is excited about the rebranding that now more accurately reflects the departments focus on serving the needs of its community partners.

“Together with our workforce partners, Workforce & Community Education provides short-term opportunities to develop a highly-skilled workforce to preserve the community’s competitiveness and economic opportunity,” Grillot said. “The resulting registered apprenticeship program provides employees with the opportunity to receive intensive, company-specific technical training while earning college credit. Upon completion of the two-year program, the employee will have earned a college certificate and become a Journeyman level Machinist endorsed by the Kansas Department of Labor.”

Dr. Dennis C. Rittle, president of Cowley, concluded, “I cannot overstate the impact of this innovative partnership upon the economic and workforce development for our region. A special thanks to the leadership of TECT Aerospace, Cowley College, Workforce Alliance of South Central Kansas, and the Kansas Department of Commerce. These intricate partnerships are only possible through relentless persistence, one of the indelible markings of transformative leadership. It is a proud day for all of us!”

TECT Aerospace previously pledged $150,000 for naming rights at the Sumner Campus Technology and Innovation Center.

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