WESTFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – It was a celebration at Barnes Airport in Westfield Thursday, as the Westfield Technical Academy Aviation class of 2022 graduated from their AMT program.

AMT stands for Aviation Maintenance Technician, the mechanics who keep our aircraft in top shape. This FAA-certified program in Westfield is the only one in New England, and one of just a handful across the country. It’s essentially a college-level course that these students take as early as their freshman year of high school.

Christopher Chaves, an instructor at Westfield Technical Academy said, “It was looked at by a board of professors and determined to be at the college 100 to 200 level. So these freshmen come in at 14 years old and they’re expected to be college students. It really is asking a lot of them, but they rise to the occasion, unfailingly.”

In order to graduate, these now-former students had to put in more than 12 hundred hours of both traditional classes and hands-on mechanic work.