Pearl River breaks ground on Phil Bryant Aviation and Aerospace Workforce Academy in Hancock County


WAVELAND, Miss. – Pearl River Community College ensured it will be at the forefront of America’s journey into the next frontier Tuesday with the official groundbreaking ceremony for the Phil Bryant Aviation and Aerospace Workforce Academy in Hancock County.

The celebration across from the Stennis Airport was the culmination of years of tireless work from countless entities.  

“Today is a testament to this community and a testament to the cooperation and support from many individuals and governmental agencies,” PRCC President Dr. Adam Breerwood said. “We are grateful for the hard work and commitment to this project and look forward to the numerous opportunities that it will bring to the region.

“PRCC — Pride, Respect, Class and Character. We refer to this as the ‘Wildcat Way’ and everything associated with our college is centered around this ideology. The charge that is embraced by our faculty and staff is really somewhat simple by the end of the day. It’s changing the lives of those we serve. We strive to build better communities. To build our students not only academically but socially, morally and ethically. We strive to not only educate them in the classroom; we want to build better mothers, better fathers; we want to build better communities.”

Executive Director of the Mississippi Development Authority Glenn McCullough introduced Governor Phil Bryant, who said he was surprised the facility will be named after him. 

Bryant spoke about his continued goal to revitalize the space industry and how investing in Hancock County’s workforce contributes to the realization of that endeavor.

“We are a state of surprise and determination and hard work and cooperation,” he said. “This is just the beginning and Pearl River Community College has led the way. We will go on into the great outer space and it will start here in Hancock County at this Pearl River facility.

“I think what you’ll see here is young men and women that will go on to be astronauts one day. They will think, as I did, ‘maybe I can get a two-year degree and then I can get a job and hopefully a lot of them will have that opportunity. They will go on to other industries. Some of them will work in aerospace industries. Some of them will go into the military but their career will begin here at Pearl River Community College and who knows what they’ll be. Maybe they’ll be walking on the moon one day.” 

Hancock County Port and Harbor Commission CEO Bill Cork shares in Bryant’s enthusiasm for the Academy’s potential. 

“Friends and neighbors will need training. Lots of training,” Cork said. “Manned and unmanned commercial flight training, military flight training for domestic and allied nations, airframe and power plant maintenance training, avionics electronics and a host of skills we can’t even comprehend yet and they are going to do it right here in Hancock County at this new Aerospace Academy.

“PRCC is leading the way. You’re blazing new trails. In addition to (the Academy) being right next door, their staff has partnered with us to go out and sell our workforce and training at the same time. It’s this kind of teamwork that’s going to make it happen.”

Architectural renderings of the Academy buildings were unveiled before Breerwood and area partners ceremoniously broke ground on the new site. 

“Wernher von Braun, who was chosen to help run the space program, famously said ‘Man will go to the Moon one day and return safely to Earth, but he’s going to have to pass through Hancock County to get there,’” Bryant said. “Today, Dr. Breerwood, we continue that mission. Now back to the Moon and on to Mars.

“And man or woman will again have to pass through Hancock County to get to Mars. Our NASA Space Center here at Stennis will help lead the world in the universe into the great outer space.”


The Academy will be an estimated 25,000 square feet and represents a new and expanded presence for PRCC in Hancock County on Fred and Al Key Road. The facility will consist of eight classrooms, five labs, reception area, faculty and staff offices, break room/kitchenette for staff, indoor sitting/vending area for students and an outdoor courtyard sitting area.

“The PRCC Hancock Aviation Aerospace Workforce Academy will not only be a state-of-the-art, accessible and affordable campus for the students in Hancock County, but it will also provide a steady pipeline of skilled workers to our local businesses and industries today and in the future,” PRCC Director of Government and Community Relations Angie Kothmann said.

The hangar itself will be an estimated 18,000 square feet and will consist of two classrooms with labs, open hangar area with hands-on lab stations, outdoor covered area for equipment training, lobby with reception area, faculty and staff offices, break room/kitchenette for staff, small vending area for students. The hangar and classroom facility will be an extension of the Academy with hands-on training space as well as state of the art classroom learning environments. Direct runway access will allow for study and testing of operational vehicles with attention given to state-of-the art composites and sheet metal materials. Aviation systems and power plant design, repair and maintenance can be studied, performed and tested in real time on operational equipment. The facility will have direct access to the Stennis International Airport runways, service and fueling facilities.  The hangar will offer the following programs: Airframe & Propulsion Technology, Unmanned Arial Systems and Precision Manufacturing.


The Academy will provide state-of-the-art learning spaces for students in the form of computer and video enhanced classrooms along with adjacent hands-on labs and shop spaces. The learning environments will combine computer simulated training with the benefits of hands-on work with the tools and equipment used in the vehicles located in the adjacent PRCC Hanger Facility. It is the intention for this facility to promote learning and skill creation for the workforce training needed to operate and maintain the equipment and vehicles we will use during this century and beyond.


Every classroom and lab will be designed to be multifunctional and versatile to constantly fit the changing needs of the businesses and industries in this area. Programs listed are the core offerings to start, but they can be amended at any time.


The academy will offer diverse educational opportunities including academic, career and technical and workforce programs. 

The Academy will offer the following programs: Instrumentation, Industrial Electronics Technology, Practical Nursing, Welding & Cutting Technology, Computer Aided Design & Drafting, Business Management Technology, Academic Courses, Workforce Programs, Adult Education/GED.

The programs that will be new to the Hancock location upon its opening are Instrumentation, Airframe & Propulsion Technology, Industrial Electronics Technology, Precision Manufacturing, Computer Aided Design & Drafting and Business Management Technology.

The Aviation Maintenance Technology program is an instructional program that prepares individuals to inspect, repair, service, and overhaul aircraft engine components and systems. This program is designed to prepare the student for the Federal Aviation Administration exams for certification as an Aircraft Maintenance Technician. Industry standards referenced are from the Federal Aviation Regulations, Part 147, Aviation Maintenance Technician Schools (Airframes and Power Plants).

Before leaving the podium to ceremoniously break ground on the future training site, Bryant painted a picture of the universe with Hancock County’s prominently in focus. Bryant connected the Coast’s legacy as a NASA stronghold with where Mississippians and PRCC figure in the centuries to come.

“Think about the young men and women who will be working on the moon and saying, where did you this trade? Where were you trained? Oh, well Pearl River Community College in Hancock County. And another one is going to say, I was there as well just a few years before you graduated and here we are working on the moon together. It’s going to happen. It’s going to happen,” Bryant said. “And the great Fred Haise, wherever he will be, will be smiling and realizing that as they were leading in Apollo days, testing those systems here at Stennis, that it would continue; there work would live on and the dream would not die. Man and woman would not be deterred. 

“We will go on into the great outer space and it will start here in Hancock County at this Pearl River facility.”

The hangar is estimated to be completed by Dec. 31, 2020 and the Academy by the same date in 2021.

For the latest news on Pearl River Community College, visit and follow us on Twitter (@PRCC_Wildcats) and Facebook (@PRCCMKTG).

Pearl River Community College offers equal education and employment opportunities. The College does not discriminate on the basis of race, religion, color, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, age, national origin, veteran status, or disability. For inquiries regarding the non-discrimination policies or to request accommodations, special assistance, or alternate format publication please contact Tonia M. Seal, Director of Admissions and Records/ ADA/Civil Rights Coordinator at P.O. Box 5559, Poplarville, MS 39470 or 601-403-1060 or Maghan James, Assistant Vice President of Student Services/Title IX Coordinator at P.O. Box 5805, Poplarville, MS 39470 or 601-403-1132.

Each community college president is asked to bring two (2) wrapped door prizes, minimum value of $50 each. We will have a station set up at the conference for you to drop off the door prizes.

Each community college is asked to provide name tags for their Board members, administration, and staff attending the conference.