Aircraft Fabrication & Assembly Technician Program

Antelope Valley College
Submitted By:
Ed Knudson, President/Superintendent
Program Contact: Dr. Maria Clinton, Director, Interim Dean, Career Technical Education
Phone: 661-722-6327

Antelope Valley College

General Description

This program is designed to prepare students for careers in aircraft structures and composites fabrication and assembly. The certificate and associate degree programs include course work to help prepare students for entry-level employment in the aerospace industry. Students who complete this program will have the necessary skills to be employed by aircraft manufacturers and subcontractors in a variety of positions. In addition, this program is designed to prepare students for the Aircraft Manufacturing Technology (AFMT) Bachelor’s Degree of Science.

Northrop Grumman was awarded an 80+billion-dollar contract to build the new B-21 bomber, this created a large staffing problem in the region. It was estimated that they would need to hire 3,000 – 4,000 new employees at their Palmdale location. Northrop Grumman approached: The City of Palmdale, Antelope Valley College and Goodwill of Southern California to search for a way to meet these staffing needs. AVC’s existing Aircraft Fabrication & Assembly Technician Program (AFAB) was customized into a Rapid Training program to train individuals for entry level assembly / manufacturing positions with Northrop Grumman.

Under the AFAB Rapid Training program, students take four different classes that are worth 23 units of college credit. All of these classes are accelerated and completed in an 8-week timeframe in the Spring, Fall, and Summer Sessions. Upon completion of the program, each student will be granted an interview with Northrop Grumman, as long as they maintained a grade of C in each of the classes and completed all of the final projects. Since 2015 over 1050 students have gone through the Rapid AFAB program, of those students 92% have been placed into manufacturing jobs, mainly with Northrop Grumman; 237 students were female; 52 were veterans; 643 were low income individuals placed (Calfresh / BOG Waiver Recipients); 327 minority students; and 21 were homeless students that were placed.

Since the Rapid Training program was initiated, the AFAB program went from offering 18 sections (2014-15) to 49 sections (2018-19) per term. Enrollment has increased from 398 to 1605 (duplicated) head count. Certificates and Degrees have increased from 49 to 317 awarded. 

Due to the high success rate and quality of graduates Northrop Grumman is currently working with colleges in Florida and Oklahoma to replicate the AFAB program. The AFAB program model can be replicated across all industry sectors. The key to the success with this model is the strong partnership between industry and the college program key personnel (faculty and administration) to listen to industry needs and create/revise programs as necessary to meet those needs and timelines.