(Photo Courtesy of Ivy Tech Community College)
GARY, IN — Ivy Tech Community College has received a Boeing 737-400 as a donation from the Popovich Family Trust. The plane, valued at $1.375 million, will be utilized by the Community College for various training and teaching opportunities.
“This is a wonderful example of how a local community helps make its community college even stronger by providing the resources it needs to be successful,” said Dr. Thomas Coley, Chancellor of the Northwest and North Central regions of Ivy Tech. “There is no substitute for hands-on experience, and that’s exactly what this plane will offer our students. The plane will allow us to provide training that we would otherwise have no way of facilitating. On behalf of Ivy Tech Community College and its students, we say thank you to the Popovich Family Trust.”
Ivy Tech will use the plane in its Emergency Response Training Lab, which opened on November 22 at the Gary/Chicago International Airport. The lab will give Ivy Tech students the chance to train with special instructors as part of their education. Students will be greatly benefited by the opportunity for response training prior to graduation, as many are studying professions in highly demanding fields. The use of the plane will allow them to be better prepared for the workforce once they have completed their degrees.
Two different types of training will be offered by the Emergency Response Training Lab. First, Ivy Tech students who are studying criminal justice, public safety, law enforcement, and fire and emergency response will have the ability to learn from seasoned professionals by observing them in training. This training provides a simulated environment with the use of an aircraft, which differs from the current training classes that are offered to these students. Ivy Tech is working with outside law, fire, and emergency responder professionals to help coordinate this training program.
Second, there will be a training program for seasoned officers, so that the officers can potentially obtain college credit for participating in the training in order to earn their continued education units (CEUs). The CEU training will be made available with the assistance of Ivy Tech Corporate College. Additionally, the Corporate College is working to establish classes so that officers can continue to work toward their degree while satisfying CEUs. The Corporate College would provide the certificates to the instructors.
In addition to the training lab, there are many other opportunities made possible by the donation of this airplane. The plane allows for an expanded partnership with the city of Gary, as it could be used for valuable training for Northern Indiana law, fire and emergency responder agencies. It will also provide job opportunities for security trainers, which is a valuable asset in a field where jobs are very limited. Finally, it allows the chance for Northwest Indiana to put itself at the forefront of this type of training. This is a unique and rare opportunity, and by using the plane for various types of training, Northwest Indiana can position itself as a leader nationwide.
The airplane is provided in its entirety by sage popovich, inc. (SPI), one of the companies owned by the Popovich Family Trust, which has been in business since 1979 and works to repossess commercial aircrafts. SPI is now the world’s largest specialist in recovery of aviation related equipment. In addition to repossessing aircrafts, they also offer services to provide asset management, monitor project-oriented contractual obligations, and offer expertise in all phases of airline and charter operations. Nick Popovich is currently working with Ivy Tech and aircraft professionals to create an endowment fund for the airplane. The goal for this endowment is between $1 and $2 million.
“My family and I established the Popovich Family Trust to fulfill our obligation to give back to the industry, to the community and to our veterans,” said Popovich. “We accomplish this with direct scholarships, internships and assisting educational institutions, programs for children and families with special needs, and by our work with Veteran Airlift Command where we fly wounded veterans for medical treatments, unit and family reunions and memorial services. We have high hopes for Ivy Tech and the Emergency Response Training Lab for both educational and practical training.”
Ivy Tech Community College is the state's largest public postsecondary institution and the nation's largest singly accredited statewide community college system serving nearly 200,000 students annually. Ivy Tech has campuses throughout Indiana. It serves as the state's engine of workforce development, offering affordable degree programs and training that are aligned with the needs of its community along with courses and programs that transfer to other colleges and universities in Indiana. It is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission and a member of the North Central Association.