Pearl River breaks ground on Phil Bryant Aviation and Aerospace Workforce Academy in Stennis International Airpark
By Jennifer Baxter, Communications Director
Hancock County Port and Harbor Commission
Pearl River Community College (PRCC) ensured it will be at the forefront of America’s journey into the next frontier with the December 6 official groundbreaking ceremony for the Phil Bryant Aviation and Aerospace Workforce Academy across from the Stennis International Airport located in Hancock County.
“Today is a testament to this community and a testament to the cooperation and support from many individuals and governmental agencies,” PRCC President Dr. Adam Breerwood said.
Executive Director of the Mississippi Development Authority (MDA) Glenn McCullough introduced Governor Phil Bryant, who said he was surprised the facility will be named after him.
Bryant spoke about his continued goal to revitalize the space industry and how investing in Hancock County’s workforce contributes to the realization of that endeavor.
“I think what you’ll see here is young men and women who will go on to be astronauts one day,” he commented. “They will think, as I did, ‘Maybe I can get a two-year degree and then I can get a job,’ and hopefully a lot of them will have that opportunity. Maybe they’ll be walking on the moon one day.”
Hancock County Port and Harbor Commission (HCPHC) CEO Bill Cork shares in Bryant’s enthusiasm for the Academy’s potential.
“Friends and neighbors will need training – lots of training,” Cork said. “Manned and unmanned commercial flight training, military flight training for domestic and allied nations, airframe and power plant maintenance training, avionics electronics and a host of skills we can’t even comprehend yet, and they are going to do it right here in Hancock County at this new Aerospace Academy.
“PRCC is leading the way. You’re blazing new trails. In addition to [the Academy] being right next door, their staff has partnered with us to go out and sell our workforce and training at the same time. It’s this kind of teamwork that’s going to make it happen.”
The Academy will be an estimated 25,000 sq. ft. and represents a new and expanded presence for PRCC in Hancock County’s Stennis International Airpark; the PRCC-adjacent hangar will be an estimated 18,000 sq. ft., consisting of two classrooms with labs, open hangar area with hands-on lab stations, outdoor covered area for equipment training and more.
Direct runway access will allow for study and testing of operational vehicles with attention given to state-of-the-art composites and sheet metal materials. Aviation systems and power plant design, repair and maintenance can be studied, performed and tested in real time on operational equipment. The facility will have direct access to the Stennis International Airport runways, service and fueling facilities. The hangar will offer the following programs: Airframe & Propulsion Technology, Unmanned Aerial Systems and Precision Manufacturing.
The Academy will provide state-of-the-art learning spaces for students in the form of computer and video enhanced classrooms along with adjacent hands-on labs and shop spaces. The learning environments will combine computer simulated training with the benefits of hands-on work with the tools and equipment used in the vehicles located in the adjacent PRCC Hanger Facility. It is the intention for this facility to promote learning and skill creation for the workforce training needed to operate and maintain the equipment and vehicles to be used during this century and beyond.
The Hancock County Port and Harbor Commission was established in 1963 to lead the county’s economic development activities. Stennis International Airport and Port Bienville Industrial Park are home to 30 companies with more than 1,000 employees. For more information visit www.portairspace.com
Pearl River Community College offers equal education and employment opportunities. The College does not discriminate on the basis of race, religion, color, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, age, national origin, veteran status or disability.