Forsyth Tech opens Mazie S. Woodruff Aviation Technology Lab at Smith Reynolds Airport

Published 12:32 pm Saturday, October 30, 2021

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Recently, a crowd gathered to celebrate the grand opening of Forsyth Technical Community College’s latest innovative center: the Mazie S. Woodruff Aviation Technology Lab at Smith Reynolds Airport. This lab, which was part of a $16 million bond referendum, will train students to meet the high demand throughout the region and country for aircraft maintenance and avionics technicians.

Gleaming white floors greeted guests as they entered the impressive space, which encompasses 51,962 square feet, including a 15,000-square-foot aviation hangar, classrooms and a library. The site can store up to eight aircraft and is one of only five aviation training programs that is connected to an airport in the state. This connectivity gives students the hands-on training they need.

“Making sure our students have the necessary training and experience they need to succeed is what we do at Forsyth Tech,” said Dr. Janet Spriggs, president of Forsyth Tech. “The A&P Program is just one of many innovative ways that we are working to develop our community’s workforce and be a driver for equitable economic opportunities in the Triad.”

“We know that aerospace is critical to our region and our state’s future. And research has shown that airports are an important part of local economies, and are a consideration for new businesses when deciding where to invest their resources,” Spriggs added. “Being able to deliver a skilled workforce to support this essential part of our local and state economy is a what we are all about at Forsyth Tech.”

Winston-Salem Mayor Allen Joines, who was in attendance, mentioned the many ways that Forsyth Tech has partnered with the community to meet the growing workforce needs. Joines referenced Forsyth Tech’s Grady P. Swisher Center in Kernersville, Forsyth Tech at Innovation Quarter, and now the Aviation Technology Lab. “As we are moving forward with aviation jobs, Forsyth Tech opens this wonderful facility here, which will help with our ability to grow our economy.”

The Aviation Technology Lab is named in honor of Mazie Spencer Woodruff, the first African American elected as a Forsyth County commissioner. She served from 1976 to 1990, and was known for her dedication to education and social justice. The nearby Mazie S. Woodruff Center, which opened in 1998, is also named in her honor. “We feel it is our duty to recognize individuals like Mazie Woodruff, who blazed new trails, and we are proud and honored to do so,” Spriggs said.

The Aviation Technology Lab is a big investment in East Winston, and not Forsyth Tech’s first. Sen. Paul Lowe Jr., who attended the event, recalled when he first came to Winston in 1991 and the time that he spent with Woodruff. “To see what is happening now, in this community – I’m bubbling over, I really am, to see where we’ve come from and to see the kind of things that are happening on the educational front that will benefit this community,” Lowe said.

The rigorous Airframe and Power Plant Program consists of five full-time semesters and 43 subject areas, with in-depth labs and hands-on experience. The inaugural class will begin in January 2022.