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UCM, Lee’s Summit School District Seeking Members for Avionics Advisory Board

By Janice Phelan, August 13, 2019

Airplane Cockpit Interior

The University of Central Missouri-Lee’s Summit and the Lee’s Summit R-7 School District’s Summit Technology Academy are partnering to launch a new program focusing on avionics and unmanned aircraft systems (drones) career pathways. The two educational leaders are seeking individuals working in the avionics industry to join an Avionics Advisory Board for the program.

The board’s first meeting is scheduled for 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Aug. 23 at the Missouri Innovation Campus (MIC), 1101 NW Innovation Parkway. The MIC houses both UCM-Lee’s Summit as well as the Lee’s Summit R-7’s Summit Technology Academy. Lunch will be provided.

“We are thankful for the partnerships that have facilitated the development of these programs,” said Dr. Phillip Bridgmon, UCM provost and vice president for academic affairs. “They reflect a collective commitment to regional stewardship and aligning our efforts to meet student interests and exciting professional opportunities. The advisory board will be integral to our continued work  and will provide key guidance as these new programs achieve their full potential.”

The initial advisory board meeting will be facilitated by Joe Mullins of UCM and Dr. Jeremy Bonnesen, Summit Technology Academy director/principal. Several nationally recognized avionics organizations have already agreed to be a part of the advisory board including the Aircraft Electronics Association and ULTRAX Aerospace, both headquartered in Lee’s Summit, and Duncan Aviation. In addition, representatives from the City of Lee’s Summit and the Lee’s Summit Economic Development Council plan to participate in the Advisory Board.

“The avionics program answers the call from industry to develop the next-generation of aviation professionals,” said Mike Adamson, president and CEO of Aircraft Electronics Association. “Avionics is the most exciting field in aviation, combining the high-tech world of computers with modern airframes, advanced propulsion systems and NextGen communication, navigation and connectivity solutions. This is one of only a few high school programs in the country where graduates are prepared to start a career right away or dramatically accelerate their path through college.”

The avionics program will be targeted toward both high-school and college students with a goal of enhancing the talent pipeline for a qualified workforce. The program will fill a unique need in this region by emphasizing both avionics and unmanned aircraft systems.

“The avionics pathway provides dynamic career opportunities for a high wage, high demand field that impacts air travel and aviation systems around the world,” said Bonnesen. “This field is quickly progressing in exciting ways to change the face of air travel as we know it today. Giving high school students the ability to engage in advanced and accelerated preparation for this amazing workforce is a game changer!”

“UCM Workforce and Professional Education is excited to work with both private and public organizations to build this regional talent pipeline in avionics and unmanned aircraft systems,” Mullins said. “With the combined assets and expertise of the organizations involved, we have the opportunity to create very unique programs for the Kansas City area.”

Avionics includes the electronic systems used on aircraft, artificial satellites and spacecraft. Examples are communications, navigation, monitoring, fuel systems, collision-avoidance systems, flight recorders, radar and sonar.

With the help of the Avionics Advisory Board members, UCM and Lee’s Summit R-7 staff members will build curriculum and other aspects of the avionics program. Following the launch of the avionics component, the partnering organizations will begin work on the development of an unmanned aircraft system.

In addition to curriculum development, board membership responsibilities will include assisting with industry certification identification and development, entrepreneur component integration, career pathway and internship/apprentice pathway development. The advisory board will meet more frequently initially while developing the program with meetings decreasing to twice each year after the program launches.

The University of Central Missouri’s Workforce Development programs offer face-to-face and online industry-recognized programs designed to fit the schedule of busy adults. UCM offers entry-level training as well as courses geared toward professionals wanting to advance in their careers. Through UCM’s Warrensburg campus, the university offers fully accredited aviation degree programs and certificates. UCM’s Skyhaven Airport, located in Warrensburg, is the only university-owned airport in Missouri.

For more information, avionics-industry officials interested in serving on the advisory board may contact Mullins at or Bonnesen at


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