Are you a hands-on learner? Do you have a passion for avionics? If so, the Aviation Technology Associate in Science degree at Nashua Community College may be the perfect fit.
Derek Berna graduated from the program in 1994 and currently works as an inspector for Leland Aero Service at the Nashua Airport. “The aviation program at NCC was good because it was personalized and classes were small. The instructors did a great job at covering all the aspects for aircraft maintenance and that’s a necessity where I’m working”. A typical day for Berna ranges from a simple oil change to a complex inspection or repair. “That’s why I like aviation - there are a variety of tasks.”
The Aviation Technology degree at NCC prepares men and women for professional careers in aviation maintenance. All aspects of the program are enriched with creating an atmosphere conducive to learning, while instilling a high degree of business ethics and professionalism. This facilitates an easy transition from a student to a professional career in aircraft maintenance.
Major emphasis is placed on the study of actual aircraft structures, power plants and related systems. A wide variety of subjects are covered including: reciprocating engines, turbines, fuel systems, propellers, ignition, electrical systems, and hydraulic systems. The program is designed in a tri-modular manner: students begin with general studies that include mathematics, physics, and computer skills; followed by study of the airframe (structure of the aircraft, landing gear, wings, and systems); and culminates with study of the power plant.
Department Chairperson and Professor, Donald Vallerand, has over 40 years experience in the aviation industry and has taught at the College for the past 20 years. “You’ll be exposed to many possibilities for a day’s work and it’s the diversity that makes this an enjoyable career.” However, Vallerand emphasizes that it is a lifelong effort to stay current in the field of avionics.
Russell Morrin a 2009 NCC graduate emphasizes, “the instructors are the greatest benefit to the aviation program because of their experience and depth of knowledge.”
The AT program is approved by the Federal Aviation Administration, which requires students to complete a minimum of 1900 hours of coursework over a two year period. The FAA approved the curriculum at NCC and associates periodically supervise a class to make certain the program is following the FAA’s highest standards.
Past graduates have transferred into a bachelor program at Embry Riddle or been recruited to work for the U.S. Army, Navy, or Airforce. All graduates are fully prepared to apply for the FAA’s oral, written, and practical exams for the Airframe and Powerplant License (A&P). The student must demonstrate that he/she can not only answer the questions, but physically show how to take apart an aircraft structure, inspect it, fix the problem and reassemble the structure. “The material covered in class is perfect for the FAA exam and I definitely felt prepared to take it,” said Morrin.
Once an individual is A&P certified, they may seek employment with airlines, fixed base operators or aircraft manufacturers. The certification is portable and can be applied anywhere in the country as well as overseas. Another key benefit to the program and certification is that the skills are transferrable to careers in automotive, office mechanics and other related fields.
The aviation maintenance field offers a broad range of job opportunities in cities of all sizes throughout the world. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment in the field is expected to increase by 7-13 percent, and job opportunities should be favorable for people who have undertaken an aircraft mechanic training program. Individuals with the combination of an FAA approved training background from NCC and an A&P Certificate are more competitive and desirable mechanics in the job market.
“Aviation is a disease for which there is no known cure. You’ll discover that aviation is a passion and those involved in this industry are completely dedicated to it. You can become infected too!” shared Vallerand.
Written by Stacey Charron, 2009 NCC graduate currently in the class of 2011 at Cornell University.