Aviation Technology founders honored

Nashua Community College Aviation Technology Founders Receive Charles Taylor Master Mechanic Award

Award recognizes the lifetime accomplishments of senior mechanics

NASHUA, NH - The two founders of the Nashua Community College Aviation Technology program received the prestigious Charles Taylor Master Mechanic Award after a lifetime in the Aviation industry. Jack Barry and Don Vallerand received the award at the Aviation Museum in Manchester on Tuesday, October 24.

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Photo: from left, John Cooper, former NCC Aviation Technology professor Bob Donadio, Aviation Technology Program Coordinator Patrick Geoffroy, award recipient Jack Barry and NCC Aviation Technology professor Jeff Sullivan. Award recipient Don Vallerand is center front.

“It was awesome,” Barry said, adding the award came after a long career in aviation, “It was nice, after 50 years of being in the business, 20 of them down at the school there; we had a lot of fun.” Barry and Vallerand founded the Aviation Technology program at Nashua Community College in 1991, and he said many program alumni turned out to support them Tuesday.

“We received a lot of comments from the program at the school, and they were all positive - especially from employers at the Nashua Airport,” Barry said. Two current aviation students work part-time at the local airport, and more aviation alumni are there full time, he said.

The Charles Taylor Master Mechanic Award is named after Charles Taylor, the first aviation mechanic in powered flight. Taylor served as the Wright brothers' mechanic and is credited with designing and building the engine for the first successful aircraft. The Charles Taylor Master Mechanic Award recognizes the lifetime accomplishments of senior mechanics.

“These two gentlemen have been in the industry for years, but they have also given back to the industry through teaching at Nashua Community College,” said Patrick Geoffroy, professor and program coordinator of Aviation Technology. Geoffroy joined the program as an adjunct professor in 2014, and took over as program coordinator when Vallerand retired in 2016.

Nominees for the award must meet a series of criteria, including: 50 or more years of civil and military maintenance experience, they must also hold a U.S. Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) or Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) mechanic or repairman certificate, and be a U.S. citizen.

“It was great, it was a real honor,” Barry said. Both Vallerand and Barry taught in the Aviation Technology at NCC, with Vallerand heading the department up to his retirement in June 2016.

The recognition also speaks to the integrity of the Aviation Technology program at NCC, Geoffroy said. “This award isn’t given lightly, you have got to be deeply embedded in the industry, and for the program’s two founders to have received it; we can give students a deeper understanding of what’s going on here.”

Approved by the FAA, Aviation Technology at NCC offers Associate Degree and Certification programs. For more information, visit nashuacc.edu. To learn more about the Charles Taylor Master Mechanic Award, visit faasafety.gov.