Students in Middle Tennessee State University’s aerospace maintenance program will be taking their training to new heights thanks to Southwest Airlines’ generous donation of a turbofan airplane engine.
The 4,300-pound CFM56 engine, which was used on flying aircraft, will now be used to teach the Department of Aerospace maintenance management students about modern, high-bypass turbofan engines, “which rule the skies today with regard to commercial transportation,” said Bill Allen, associate professor and coordinator of the Maintenance Management Program.
Allen was all smiles as he explained some of the engine components to MTSU Aerospace department personnel — including interim chair Dr. Wendy Beckman, along with Interim Provost Mark Byrnes and College of Basic and Applied Sciences Dean Bud Fischer — who visited the MTSU Flight Operations Center maintenance hangar at Murfreesboro Airport this week to take a look at the massive engine delivered in recent weeks.
Allen said the engine donation came about after former classmate and alumnus Chad Rhyne, who works for Southwest, reached out to him to see if MTSU’s aerospace program would be interested in such a gift. It has an estimated market value of $100,000, though such engines can cost millions of dollars brand new.
“Most of the equipment we have is older, as it is all but impossible to get newer technology due to the costs involved. We don’t have any engines with these types of systems, advanced as they are,” Allen said.
“That is why this engine is such a big deal. It is not every company that will take the time to help people who are not their direct customers, so Southwest is the exception, not the rule.”
CFM International made the engine, which has a thrust range of 18,500 to 34,000 pounds force. Since 1974 when the engines were introduced, more than 30,000 have been produced.
MTSU senior Jeremy Lacy of Snellville, Georgia, is among the maintenance students who will immediately gain access to training on the engine, something he’s sure will help him as he hits the job market after his scheduled graduation in May 2017.
“It’s a great asset for our program … to get a big turbofan engine, something we’ll see in the field, it’s awesome,” Lacy said. “This is real-world experience right here. We can put this on our resumes. I’m excited.”
For more information about MTSU’s Department of Aerospace, visit http://mtsu.edu/aerospace.
— Jimmy Hart (firstname.lastname@example.org)