This story originally appeared in the Press-Enterprise on July 24, 2017.
By Mark Muckenfuss
Officials with the March Joint Powers Authority believe a new training program they are supporting eventually will attract more high- tech industry to the Riverside area.
Last week, March Field Air Museum became host for the American Aerospace Technical Academy, a nonprofit school that teaches nondestructive testing. A class of 16 students began learning different methods of assessing the quality of mechanical and machined metal parts used in shipbuilding and automobile brakes.
“Right now, it’s a little piece,” said Riverside Councilman Mike Gardner, chairman of the March Joint Powers Commission. “I think it has the potential to very quickly become a big piece. If you tied this to things like the Air Resources Board bringing its testing facility to UCR, I think there’s a lot of synergy here that can really take off.”
John Stewart is the founder of the technical school. While open to anyone, its main goal is to train veterans and low-income students for what Stewart says is an industry in need of skilled workers.
“Nondestructive testing is a very niche market,” Stewart said.
It uses tools such as ultrasound, radiography and magnetic-particles to find flaws in structural materials and metal components.
Stewart says the school at the March museum is one of the few in the country that offers full-time instruction for the 10-week, 400-hour course. With grant support, most students attend the school for free, he said…