By John Willis, MIAT College of Technology Houston Campus President
Most years when I turn the page in the calendar to December, I wonder “where did this year go.” But like many, I have more than once thought “when will this year end?” It is easy for each of us to be burdened with the stress and uncertainty of 2020. But as the year closes, I choose to look forward to a more hopeful 2021 and reflect on many positives that 2020 has created. Personally, I am extremely grateful for the unexpected gifts that arrived this year in the form of growth opportunities, successful graduates accomplishing their goals in extraordinary circumstances, and the contributions of our MIAT community of faculty, staff, students, alumni, and employer partners.
Here is a quick review of some of the initiatives and developments that made a positive impact on our Houston campus in 2020:
- Over 200 students successfully graduated this year through on-campus and online modes of instruction.
- Despite the pandemic , our new student enrollment continued to climb, with our current Houston campus student population exceeding 600 compared with a population of close to 450 in 2019 . (In 2015, only 45 students were attending MIAT Houston, which means we have grown by well over 100 percent in just five years!)
- Every one of our programs grew, which means that our school is addressing the critical need for essential training for essential workers in categories deemed by Texas Governor Greg Abbott as “critical infrastructure” and transportation. Skilled workers can turn to MIAT for career and technical education in the areas of aviation maintenance; welding; wind power; energy; non-destructive testing; and Heating, Ventilation, Air Conditioning, and Refrigeration (HVACR).
- Cleaning and sanitizing our Houston physical space has become one of our highest priorities. We have added staff and equipment to help with this initiative including new disinfecting sprayers, a new air filtration system on the campus, and plexiglass barriers for students and staff as well as making many areas contactless.
- Technology became our instructional “life preserver,” enabling our instructors and students to continually engage in online learning even while fully remote; as well as streamlining our admissions, financial aid, and payment processes.
- Our Welding Technology program has added new equipment to accommodate up to 49 students in both morning and evening classes.
- We successfully launched our Non-Destructive Testing program, with over 40 students enrolled in 2020.
- We identified and hired new instructors for our NDT, Welding, and Aviation Maintenance Programs.
- We have continued to receive donations of new and used equipment from our employer partners.
- Twice this year we have conducted highly productive virtual Program Advisory Committee meetings for all our programs
- We have continued to focus on supporting our community by working on causes such as Women in Aviation International’s Aviation for Girls App and the American Cancer Society’s Real Men Wear Pink Campaign, through which we raised more than $5,000 for breast cancer research and treatment.
In 2021, we are excited to be launching our Robotics and Automation Technician program. We are also in the process of finalizing details to support a scholarship program with a widely popular foundation focused on skilled trades education and training. So, stay tuned for more information to come early next year.
Our students will be on break for the holidays starting Wednesday, December 23, 2020. Instruction will resume on Monday, January 4, 2021. Administrative offices will be open normal times except for December 24, December 25, December 31, and January 1. Individuals wanting to start school can do so on January 12. We are enrolling now, and I encourage you to reach out to our admission office to learn more. Please visit www.miat.edu for more information.
As this memorable year draws to a close, my sincere wish for everyone is that you take a moment and take stock of what you have learned this year and the accomplishments you have achieved. Everyone has his or her own story to tell of 2020.
I hope your holidays will be filled with a hopeful spirit, the wonder of a child, and the attitude that anything is possible for those who believe in the beauty of their dreams. I wish you, your family, friends, and neighbors a blessed holiday season and the peace and hopefulness that a New Year brings.
I welcome your comments, questions, and feedback. Please contact me any time via email at JWillis@miat.edu.