By Diana Hammond & Jul DeGeus
Aviation Institute of Maintenance Welding program at AIM Atlanta.
In honor of April being National Welding Month, we sat down with AIM Atlanta welding instructors, Shane Graham, David Coetzee, Carlos Murphy and Roger Anderson, to get their feedback on what sets the welding field apart from other trades:
What led you to want to study and work in the welding field?
Shane: Form the first arc I ever stuck when I was kid on the farm, I guess you could say I fell in love with welding. It got in my blood. There’s nothing compared to the instant gratification of lifting your hood to see that perfect bead you’ve been working on all day, all week or even years. To know you’re one of the few that can call yourself a welder is a great felling and it comes with a certain amount of respect.
David: My father told me when I was very young that if I developed skills with my hands, then I would never go hungry. This led me to pursue fabrication and machining skills. I also enjoyed be
ing able to create things and having the abilities to take most projects from start to finish.
Carlos: I liked that I could start my own business and that the money was good for an advanced welder.
Roger: I was inspired by multiple family and friends who worked in the steel manufacturing industry.
What’s the most fascinating thing about welding to you?
Shane: I weld because I love testing myself and pushing my skills every day. There are so many metals to weld: Titanium, nickel, hastelloy, cobalt, carbon, aluminum, stainless, etc. Nothing beats being able to start with plate steel or tubing, and by the time you’re done, you’ve made something like a boiler or a crane or a backhoe. The options are endless as to what you can make.
David: The joining of metals at the molecular level is very fascinating and with technology rapidly advancing, the options are almost limitless. The only limiting factor is your imagination. Welding can be done in space, on land, or underwater. There is such a vast array of specialized welding careers in the industry- it would take more than 10 lifetimes to experience them all.
Carlos: There’ such satisfaction and pride for me when I see the masses of people using the products that I made by welding. To see that soldiers and marines drive the armored vehicles that I welded for them to stay safe.
Roger: I love the security in the sense that after retaining the knowledge of welding and fabrication, it’s very easy to make extra funds or start a small business with very little overhead.
Welding students, Jude and Warren, with instructors Mr. Coetzee and Mr. Cash, at graduation.
What advice would you give someone interested in the welding?
Shane: Welding opens up the door to a lot of adventure’s and opportunities; it challenges you daily. It’s a skill that can take you around the world. If you can dream it you can build it. A welder’s job is not one that is set in stone. There are thousands of different roles in thousands of different industries working with thousands of different products. One can accomplish great things as a welder. 35 years in the field has given me the opportunity to own my own company, with 100+ full time employees, and build multimillion dollar projects. I’ve made a lot of money and I received the National leadership award from Congress. Looking back over my life, I would do it all again, with no regrets.
David: Pay attention to details, ask questions, specialize and do what you love and have a passion for; the money will come to you.
Carlos: Welding is a great source of income. It’s fun and you will meet great people in this business.
Roger: The person interested in a welding career should not be afraid of minor burns, cuts, dust, dirt, smoke, fumes, or hard work.
What inspired you to teach this subject rather than work in the field?
Shane: I’ve already made a lot of money in my life, traveled the country. In this chapter of my life, I wanted to give back and slow down a bit, as am older now.
David: I saw a demand for skilled and knowledgeable welders. I felt compelled to help pass on trade skills and techniques, so I turned my attention from working in the field to being an instructor.
Carlos: I wanted to share the science of welding. I wanted to improve and refine the economy by teaching students the proper knowledge and information for the workforce.
Roger: I have worked with so many knowledgeable men and women with copious amounts of experience. They passed that information down to me, so I feel obliged to pay it forward!
Do you have a teaching moment at AIM that you want to share?
David: I have had a number of good moments in my short time here at AIM, but one stands out to me most: A graduating student introduced me to his parents and said, “[I] was the best instructor [he] had ever had.” He said, “[I] was more than just a welding instructor, [I] was like a life coach to him,” and that felt good.
Carlos: I teach the do’s and don’ts of interviewing to my students. I show students how to speak to a recruiter. I also teach students to take pride in their work, improve their resume, and land a welding job.
Roger: Everyday working with students who are new to the process is a fun moment.
Written by: Jennifer Butler, Edited by: Jul DeGeus
It was a “welcome home” worthy of heroes as the Aviation Institute of Maintenance Houston Skills Team returned to their campus the Monday morning after the Professional Aviation Maintenance Association (PAMA) Olympics. Collecting 4 awards, including 1st place individual and 1st place overall, the team was met with a path of adoring students and proud faculty, whose cheers of support and pride echoed throughout the hangar.
The weekend of February 25th, the Houston Hawks flew to the Alliance Airport in Fort Worth, Texas to take part in the PAMAs, rivaling against strong competitors such as: Texas State Technical College, TULSA Tech, Tarrant Community College, Letourneau University and even their sister campus, AIM Dallas. Most of the opposing teams had worked together for several years and had multiple PAMA wins under their belts. But this year was different; this year a technical school from Houston, Texas stepped up to the plate and challenged the winning streak of Tarrant County Community College and Letourneau University:
This year was and is Houston’s year. The Hawks took 1st place Individual, 3rd place Individual, 1st place Overall Team and 2nd place for Operation C.H.A.O.S. In my opinion it was a sweep. This is a first for PAMA, AIM Houston is the only technical school that has ever won the PAMA Olympics. The Houston Campus Instructors were very instrumental in prepping this team and it takes an awesome team to become a winning team. This was a win for all of AIM! – Mike Riccardelli, Houston Hawks Coach (2nd Place Operation C.H.A.O.S.)
It’s no surprise that an AIM school would win with such sweeping success. The PAMA Olympics is an example of a remarkable opportunity encouraged by AIM Houston for students to network with members of the community and to grow as individuals and we’re so proud of AIM Houston’s Skills Team and all of our students that make great strides every day. It takes each individual to make a campus strong. We believe that all individuals are capable of great accomplishments and success.
The Houston Hawks showcased immeasurable pride with strength and determination. This was a momentous occasion for such a talented group of future Airframe and Powerplant Mechanics. But this success isn’t AIM Houston’s alone; this accomplishment is for all AIMs. The Houston Hawks will attend the Aerospace Maintenance Competition, April 24-27 in Orlando, FL. The world is at our doorstep and together, AIM shall take the next adventure, one step at a time.
By Jul DeGeus
Imagine this: Your final paper on ”The History of Cleaning and Corrosion Control” is due tomorrow but you forgot to cite the book you used, and even worse, you forgot the name of the book. You make an emergency trip to the library, but when you walk in, no one is there. A building abandoned, books are scattered everywhere, piled atop of one another with no rhyme or reason in how they are categorized. Will you find the book in enough time to turn in your paper?
Thanks to the hard work and organization skills of librarians, this is an unlikely situation to find yourself in. April 4th is National School Librarian Day and here at the Aviation Institute of Maintenance, we wanted to take the time to recognize some of our all-star librarians:
Rebecca (left) assists a student with homework.
“Rebecca Crosby has been working for AIM Atlanta for nearly 14 years. She is a superstar on campus and we are proud to have her as our librarian. Rebecca became interested in Library Science as a high school student. She took five years of Library Science courses while attending Berkmar High School in Lilburn, GA.
Rebecca began her career at AIM as a receptionist. The campus was based out of a hangar called “Briscoe Field” and had no library. When AIM Atlanta moved into its new campus building nine years ago, Rebecca made the leap to Campus Librarian. Rebecca loves working in the library because she is able to help students and connect with them on a daily basis. Like almost every other librarian, she also loves to read! Rebecca’s favorite book, for now, is “The Notebook” by Nicholas Sparks. “
-AIM Atlanta Staff
“Shout out to the amazing Mrs. Leah Veal, our Librarian and PSI proctor. No matter the task or project, she is always willing to assist wherever she is needed. Even if that means hunting down a missing manual; she will look for it and she will find it. Both students and staff appreciate you and your enthusiasm when helping others. Thank you, Leah, for everything that you do!”
-AIM Chesapeake Staff
“Valerie Harris has worked at AIM Dallas as the campus librarian since 2015. Prior to that, she worked in education for over 25 years. She graduated from The University of Southern Mississippi with a Bachelor’s Degree in Library and Information Science and minored in History. Valerie has improved our library processes and coordination. She is always willing to provide a helping hand to students searching for specific information or material. Thank you for always making sure the library remains a quiet haven for our students to study. “
-AIM Dallas Staff
“Lucero ‘Lucy the Librarian’ Rosales began her career at AIM Houston as a part time receptionist and was promoted to Assistant Librarian shorty after. Lucy is very creative and always willing to help any student or staff member. She currently attends Houston Community College where she is studying pastry arts and plans to open a bistro after college. We’re so proud of all of your hard work, Lucy!”
-AIM Houston Staff
AIM Kansas City
Frederick Douglas Thomas
Aptly named after the famous Frederick Douglass, AIM Kansas City’s Frederick Douglas Thomas is treasure to our school. A man of many titles, Fredrick is the Librarian, Career Services Coordinator, director of FAA test proctoring, and head of the graduation committee. He is a constant rock of support for his students and colleagues, encouraging excellence, honor, integrity and humility. He challenges everyone he interacts with to become their best selves and does it all while looking like a million bucks! Thank you for all that you do!”
-AIM Kansas City Staff
“Karoline received her BA in History from the University of Central Florida and her Masters in Library Science from San Jose State. Karoline became a librarian because, ‘I have a deep love for history and books; this is a career that allows me to fulfill that passion and share it with others.’ We’re lucky that our library is the one you get to share your passion with!”
-AIM Oakland Staff
“Noreen started at the Aviation Institute of Maintenance in Orlando on January 26, 2015 and plays a dual role. She is the testing proctor in the afternoons and the Evening Library Assistant, accommodating students with their Learning Resource Center needs. Noreen comes from New York, likes to keep busy and ‘loves to help people.’”
“Ruth is the Daytime Library Assistant at the Aviation Institute of Maintenance in Orlando. She started at the campus on May 12, 2016 and ‘loves working with our students.’ Originally from St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands, Ruth enjoys cooking and singing gospel music in her spare time. “
-AIM Orlando Staff
By Diana Hammond & Jul DeGeus
March comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb. It’s a month to celebrate things like pi and pies, your Irish heritage, or, at the very least, honorary Irish heritage and corndogs. Yes, National Corndog Day is a real thing and it occurs March 19th. We even “celebrate” spring by losing an hour of sleep for daylight savings.
At the Aviation Institute of Maintenance, our favorite thing to celebrate in March is Women of Aviation Week, March 6th- 12th. In honor of the fine women who made strides in a predominantly male field, we sat down with two of our female instructors, Molly Dixon and Heidi Maddock, to find out what motivated them to become a woman of aviation and what advice they have for females interested in entering that field:
What led you to want to study and work in aviation?
MD: I was tired of my first career field as a chemist. I have always liked working on mechanical projects, so I knew that I wanted to do maintenance. There was an aviation maintenance school in the area that I was living in. I decided to enroll so that I could acquire the education I would need to get my A & P license.
HM: I was always mechanically inclined and loved aviation. When I was young, I developed a love for traveling on airplanes and the history of aviation.
What advice would you give to a woman who is interested in the field of aviation?
MD: Start your career as early as possible because there is so much to learn! This applies to whatever field you decide to go into, whether it’s aviation maintenance or becoming a pilot.
HM: Put on a tough exterior and hang in there. Opportunities for women are great. It may be tough working in a male-dominated field, but I have seen first-hand it is worth it.
Was there someone in particular who made a difference in your journey that you want to thank?
MD: Yes, I had an instructor named Mr. John McCarthy. He was very supportive of me while attending aviation maintenance school. He didn’t care that I was a woman and was supportive of me during my entire education when not all of the instructors were.
HM: Two- First is my Aunt who encouraged me to go to aviation maintenance school. When I had doubts, she reassured me and even paid my registration fee to ensure I could go. Second is my sheet metal instructor who worked on a Coast Guard Base and helped me get a job as a sheet metal technician. It was my first aviation job and I gained a lot of experience and valuable training.
What’s the most fascinating thing about aviation maintenance to you?
MD: I get to do something different every single day that I work. I continue to learn new things every day as well. Teaching aviation maintenance gives me the opportunity to review subject areas that I don’t always get to use.
HM: Every day is different. As an A&P, you don’t typically have the same routine day to day. Aviation is exciting; I’ve experienced things I never thought I would. It has also allowed me to travel and see different places. I believe the field has a lot to offer and I’ve always been really happy to be a part of it.
Molly and Heidi are prime examples that with hard work, dedication and patience, you can become whatever you put your mind to. So here’s to you, ladies in aviation; thank you for persisting and teaching others to believe in themselves. If you are interested in becoming a woman or man of aviation, click here to get more information about AIM’s program offerings.
Palmer, A. T., photographer. (1942) Woman working on an airplane motor at North American Aviation, Inc., plant in Calif. California Inglewood, 1942. June. [Photograph] Retrieved from the Library of Congress, https://www.loc.gov/item/fsa1992001164/PP/.