MONTGOMERY, Ala. — The Alabama Community College System has hired a new director for aviation programs.

Michael “Mac” McDaniel was hired to the post, Al.com reported. The hiring is part of ACCS ramping up its programs to help fill what officials say is a surging demand for aircraft mechanics.

McDaniel takes on the new position at ACCS after a stint with ExpressJet Airlines as a general manager of aircraft maintenance training in Atlanta. He says aviation education programs need to connect with employers and make sure students are attaining the skills to launch and advance their careers.

“This is a great chance for somebody who’s been in the industry 30 years to step on the other side of the fence, to get into the educational environment, to try to address the needs of the workforce community through the school system, to align our students with the needs of the workforce, with the needs of the employers all through the state.” McDaniel said.

Three Alabama community colleges include Coastal Alabama, Enterprise State and Snead State. Each offers aviation technology programs certified by the Federal Aviation Administration include airframe maintenance and technology, power plant technology, avionics technology, aviation composite materials and general aviation technology.

Baker said Boeing, Airbus, GE Aviation and other major aviation companies have a presence in Alabama.

“There are different companies in the Huntsville area that are literally looking for hundreds of folks,” Snead State President Robert Exley said.

Jeff Lynn, senior executive of workforce and economic development for the ACCS, said aviation and companies already in the state create about 300 new jobs annually.

“We’ll be meeting with all of our companies across the state, working to make sure that they have a steady pipeline from our colleges at the caliber that they need to hire them,” Lynn said. “We’ll also be working with our Department of Commerce to recruit more companies similar to them and grow that industry in the state.”