Education with purpose
Lake Area Technical Institute engages in annual Corporate Aviation Day
June 1, 2018
In the Beginning
One typical school day as we were in the shop supervising our students' projects, two individuals I had never met walked into the school and introduced themselves. John Bucher, Maintenance Consultant for Banc of America Leasing and Eric Olson, Maintenance Manager for General Mills Air Transportation. Eric was a graduate of the A&P program back in 1993 and he wanted to show John his alma mater.
After touring they said, if the school was interested, they would contact me at a later date to discuss opportunities within Corporate Aviation and how we could introduce the students to it. That brief encounter blossomed into a friendship for myself, a relationship with LATI, and wonderful opportunities for my students.
That was December 2010. John contacted me a few months later to begin planning for the first event that took place in December 2011.
First Corporate Aviation Day
That first year event was eye opening for our students to learn about Corporate Aviation's benefits to the economy and the exciting world-wide career opportunities it held. Present were representatives from corporate flight departments, aircraft manufactures, and aircraft maintenance facilities that include the following organizations:
General Mills, Cargill, West Star Aviation, Cessna (now Textron), Banc of America Leasing, Target, Duncan Aviation, Bizjet, Fargo Jet Center, Signature Flight Support, Elliott Aviation, Gulfstream, Silver Hawk Aviation, Aberdeen Flying Service, Bismarck Aero, and Satcom Direct.
If you have ever attended the NBAA convention in Las Vegas, you probably know that a fleet of corporate aircraft are towed through the streets of Las Vegas in the wee hours of the morning from McCrarren International Airport to the convention center for static display. You can Google "NBAA Parade of Planes" and see a very interesting video clip of how it's done. Our rendition of that involved us, one year, towing our donated Learjet through Watertown (three miles) for static display outside the main campus. Another year, we taxied our Aeromot AMT-200S through the same route for display. Those operations have proven very effective considering media coverage, police escorts at four in the morning, and passersby wondering how those airplanes ended up in town.
Corporate Aviation Day Agenda
The typical agenda for the Corporate Aviation Day event usually looks like this:
• Advisory board meeting
• Key note address
• Panel discussion
• Hangar talk
• Door prizes
• School day ends
Industry reps report to John Bucher's garage for "debrief" refreshments, food and war stories. (I still owe him a wooden prop to hang on his wall)
Advisory Board Meeting
We begin with an A&P school advisory board meeting with the industry reps. There is always an amazing display of professionalism, enthusiasm, experience, and talent that has gathered in support of the school and our students. In addition to A&P technical skills, the committee always emphasizes the importance of "soft" skills needed to perform well in the work environment. Work ethic, character, discipline, and a safety minded technician are key foundations discussed. I beam with pride to have the opportunity to introduce school administration to such an outstanding group.
Key Note Address
Then it's on to a key-note address from an MRO or OEM, top-level management. They've always done a tremendous job of describing their roots, where their education and experience has taken them, and the exciting career opportunities waiting for students.
This is followed by a panel discussion of industry representatives that share career-path experiences and answer questions from the audience. The panel consists of multiple layers of experience and backgrounds within corporate aviation.
This format provides the students and audience with multiple points of view from each individual. We invite high school students and their parents. This provides them with a look at another possibility within the Aviation Maintenance career. High schools have attended from both local and many miles away.
Lunch, Hangar Talk, Interviews
On to lunch where we encourage the attendees (A&P students, administration, parents, etc.) to seek out a table with one of the industry reps so they can hear their stories on a personal level, ask questions, and exchange information. This has proved to be a great way to start discussions between everyone involved.
After lunch, each company has a table setup to provide a one on one atmosphere for continued understanding, information and learning. We have even had companies hold interviews and provide offers of internships and employment on the spot.
Corporate Aviation Day Benefits
National Business Aviation Association Technical Reward and Career Scholarship (NBAA TRACS)
TRACS is a scholarship opportunity provided by donations to NBAA from maintenance vendors, suppliers, manufactures, and NBAA members focused on the technical side of corporate aviation. Scholarships provide 40+ technical courses to A&P students and instructors of an accredited school. Our students who've received this world-class training get tremendous exposure and marketability. Here are some specific examples of scholarships which the students at LATI have received:
• Bell Helicopter Vibration Analysis
• Pratt & Whitney PT6 Familiarization Course
• ABARIS Composite Training
• Principles of Troubleshooting, Flight Safety
• Williams International Engine Course
Materials and Manpower Donations
• Learjet donation
• Learjet relocation
Aircraft moving materials
• Fabricated Jet Engine Hot Section • Training Aid
• Internships • Employment
We have estimated the total Corporate Aviation Day Benefit to date to be over $650,000.
Stories industry reps share are priceless looks through the window of a rewarding and exciting career.
One story was told about the Italian Air Force's fleet of Gulfstreams experiencing engine problems not experienced by other customers. It required a site visit from a company tech rep.
The wing commander personally took the tech rep on a typical sortie in an attempt to possibly experience firsthand one of the anomalies.
The tech rep squirmed in the right seat as the aircraft was taken through a flight profile like that of a front-line air superiority fighter. The anomalies ceased when he convinced the unit to stop operating their business jets like fighters.
As a side note, he continued his story by saying this unit of the Italian Air Force was sometimes called upon to provide air transportation for the Pope. He concluded with, "So I can say that I've worked on the Pope's airplane."
In conclusion, this event has melded relationships between Lake Area Tech and some amazing and supportive folks in the Corporate Aviation world who are generously giving back because of breaks they got as struggling new A&Ps.
It's a win-win because it allows us to do our very best to properly prepare students for their careers, and, in-turn, corporations have established a strong relationship that provides them another source for new employees in the field of aviation.