By: Jennifer Butler Edited by: Jul DeGeus & James Clary
It’s no surprise that the Aviation Institute of Maintenance (AIM) Houston Campus Skills Team would represent AIM in a dynamic event celebrating Aviation Maintenance Technicians. The AIM Houston Hawks are comprised of a vibrant group of students that are driven, dedicated, and passionate about aviation maintenance. They have proven themselves individually; each member excels in a particular set of skills. But the unique dynamic that sets Hawks apart from other teams is their ability to recognize each other’s strengths and use those strengths to the teams overall advantage.
(Left to right) Coach Mike Riccardelli, Cordero Garcia, Brandon Daniel, Vijay Parsan, Fernando Viertons & Joshua Borel at AMC.
This team is comprised of seven students; seven students with a strong work ethic. Seven students who are organized and know how to set and accomplish goals. Seven future Aviation Maintenance Technicians that take pride in the career for which they are training for. Seven students who will one day become as valuable employees as they are students. When combined, they are an unstoppable team. They are AIM Houston’s epitome of success. They are the AIM Houston Hawks, 2017 Skills Team; Joshua Borel (Team Captain), Fernando Viertons, Vijay Parsan, Brandon Daniel, Cordero Garcia, Roberto Moreira (Alternate) and Christa Isenhower (Alternate).
When AIM Houston announced the need for the skills team, there were an overwhelming amount of students interested. To recruit those who were most qualified, the school held a competition. Brandon Daniel, one of the talented students who won a spot on the team, recollects, “What a spectacular and life changing experience! Although the 2017 AIM Houston Hawks Skills Team’s journey was truly amazing, it was not easy. We competed against each other for a spot on the team.”
Once assembled, the Hawks worked together to develop their talents as a team and as individuals. Focused with their eyes on the prize, they had one goal in mind: Prepare for and place at the Professional Aviation Maintenance Association (PAMA) Southwest Regional Olympics held in Ft. Worth, Texas. Team Captain, Josh Borell, set the standard for his team. “All of us went in with a job to do: bring home the gold.”
Joshua Borel (left) & Vijay Parsan at AMC.
The PAMA Southwest Regional Olympics introduced the AIM Houston Hawks to new challengers: AIM Dallas, Texas State Technical College, TULSA Tech, Tarrant Community College and Letourneau University. Many of the competing teams had worked together for several years and were veterans of the competition. Some of the teams even had multiple victories under their belts from a previous year at the PAMA Olympics. But this year was different; this year an aviation school from Houston, Texas stepped up to the plate and challenged the winning streak of Tarrant County Community College and Letourneau University. The results were in and AIM Houston Instructor and AIM Houston Hawks Coach, Mike Riccardelli, was elated with his team’s success:
The Hawks took 1st place individual, 3rd place individual, 1st place Overall Team and 2nd place for Operation C.H.A.O.S. This is a first for PAMA Southwest Regional 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!
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 PAMA Olympics. Collecting 4 awards, including 1st place individual and 1st place overall, the team was met with a path of adoring students and spirited faculty, whose cheers of support and pride echoed throughout the hangar.
“After months of practice, blood, sweat, and tears we completed our job. We proved that making deadlines, hard work, and dedication pays off,“ said Borel. Not only did AIM Houston show what commitment and team work look like, they reminded competitors not to underestimate passion and devotion as a motivator for success.
After the thrill and excitement upon their return hushed in the hangar, the Hawks has a message for their campus, as well as their sister schools. This honor wasn’t just theirs; they graciously dedicated this win to all AIM students and instructors. “Our team has the skills and motivation, but what sets them apart is their passion for aviation maintenance and their passion for success,” Aaron Armendariz, Campus Executive Director of AIM Houston, articulated with pride.
But the Hawk’s journey didn’t stop there.
(Left to right) Vijay Parson, Brandon Daniel, Joshua Borel & Fernando Viertons at AMC.
Shortly after the win at PAMA, Armendariz received a call with an invitation for the team to attend the Aerospace Maintenance Competition (AMC) held in Orlando, Florida the week of April 24-27, 2017. Only this time, they were no longer the AIM Houston Skills Team. Representing all of AIM, the Hawks title graduated to the Aviation Institute of Maintenance Skills Team.
The date of the competition had finally arrived and, though the team was in Orlando, AIM Houston was steadfast with support. Time stood still as the entirety of students and staff gathered to anxiously watch the live feed of the AMC.
Questions plagued the campus community: Would they win? How would they do overall? What if they didn’t place? But regardless of the outcome, one thing the campus knew for sure was that the skills team would represent AIM with pride and give their all to succeed. Each day that passed students and staff could see the successfulness of the team; they knew this would be a close race and that the AIM skills team was one of the top contenders.
And then, the moment the campus and Skills team had been waiting for came: The announcement of the winners.
The room was silent as the AMC MC announced second place, overall. It was AIM! Second among all 22 schools that were competing, seventh of 56 teams competing and number one in the Schools Category for the Geared Turbo-Fan Engine Event. Hawk, Vijay Parsan, reminisces, “I enjoyed performing all the events as I knew in my heart that I was on the right path on building my future. Winning the cup, however, showed and proved to me that hard work and determination pays off immensely.”
(Left to right) Cordero Garcia, Fernando Viertons, Vijay Parsan, Joshua Borel & Brandon Daniel at AMC.
The Hawks triumph could not have been attained without the help of their coach, Mike Riccardelli, as well as countless faculty such as Brian Thompson, who rigorously helped prepare them for the different skills required for their success. “Being around the team is a reminder of “You get out of it, what you put into it.” They have their own bar, their own standard. And it is set very high,” Thompson boosts about the group.
As winners of the event, the AIM Houston Hawks received Pratt & Whitney scholarships totaling $16,000, Mechanix Certificates totaling $600 as well as Snap-On/Grypshon and Mechanix Wear for $800 of tools and equipment per team member. Team member Christa Isenhower left the event with the future on her mind: “This is an experience I will never forget and is a great start to a new career.”
Cordero Garcia (left) & Fernando Viertons at AMC.
The AMC competition was the experience of a lifetime for the AIM Houston Hawks. Roberto Moreira, Fernando Viertons and Cordero Garcia put into words the experience of the competition and their admiration of their team:
It has been both an honor and a blessing to be a part of the AIM Houston Maintenance Skills Team. I am so proud of each and every accomplishment the Hawks have achieved. From winning first place in the PAMA Olympics to having the second lowest time among schools at AMC, the team has really worked hard to get to this point. To see the amount of time, dedication and teamwork the guys had while they practiced was a sight to see. -Roberto Moreira
One of the things I learned in this amazing experience is that no matter the obstacles, be level minded, follow procedures and have fun. GO HAWKS! -Fernando Viertons
It was a wonderful opportunity to see all of the new technology and equipment being used in the field right now, as well as, being able to compete with some of the best in the profession. I look forward to going back and winning next year. -Cordero Garcia
This is a win for all the students who want to finish school and earn their certification. This is a win for all the individuals who need to be reminded that staying true to yourself and remaining loyal to something important truly pays off in the end.
AIM Houston is proud of this gifted group of individuals and we look forward to witnessing all their future success. Soar high, Hawks. You did it!
By Jul DeGeus
We’ve all had that one teacher. You know, the one that was so cool that we didn’t really consider them a teacher. I mean, yeah, we were learning from them, and all, but it didn’t feel like it was their “job” to teach us; they did it because they sincerely wanted to see us succeed. They wanted us to be who we wanted to be and would give us every tool they had at their disposal to help us to get there. We’ll never be able to thank that person properly, but in honor of Teacher Appreciation Day on May 9th, we’d like to thank some of our instructors who are making a difference in all that they do:
“At AIM Houston, Mr. Michael Riccardelli has been instrumental with providing his skills and expertise to our students. He has especially been an important influence on our A&P Skill Competition Team, the Houston Hawks, who recently placed first at the PAMA Olympics and 2nd at the Aerospace Maintenance Competition in Orlando. His hard work and dedication to our students at AIM Houston is imperative in the success of our Skills Team and all our graduates. AIM Houston would like to thank Mr. Riccardelli and all the AIM Houston faculty for the hard work they do every day. Every one of you is truly appreciated.”
– Aaron Armendariz, Campus Executive Director, AIM Houston
“Mr. Robert McRight was selected as AIM Orlando’s Instructor of the Year 2017 due to his professionalism, dedication and attention-to-detail; He raises the bar for excellence. His unselfish example exhibits him as a team player, which is always evident in his willingness to go above and beyond what is expected. The students that Mr. McRight taught consistently rated his professional and caring teaching style among the best they had received. The manner in which he conducts himself reflects total dedication to the mission of the school. He is most deserving of a job “well-done” recognition!”
-Jerry Moore, Campus Executive Director, AIM Orlando
AIM Kansas City
“Mr. Decker has been an instructor at AIM Kansas City for just over a year. In that short amount of time, he has had a great impact on the students. Mr. Decker once sat right where our students sat, as he is a graduate of AIM Kansas City. Mr. Decker creates a class environment that leads students into additional exploration of advanced subject matter above and beyond the standard curriculum. He won instructor of the year at AIM Kansas in his first year, and is always looking at ways to improve the campus. Keep up the great work Mr. Decker!”
-Adrian Rothrock, Campus Executive Director, AIM Kansas City
“Tom Oriole is the resident “helicopter guy” and one of our finest instructors at AIM Atlanta. Having received his A&P license in 1972, Tom has worked all over the world including Nuevo Leon, Mexico and Jiangxi Province, China. Tom joined the faculty at AIM Atlanta in September of 2012 and quickly became an invaluable asset to the school. Whether introducing new students to Aerodynamic Fundamentals in block 1 or showing a student in block 5 how to calculate sheet metal bend allowance, Tom exhibits the skill, patience, and natural ability to excel as an instructor. Tom has the respect of the students, the faculty and staff and we’re proud to acknowledge him on Teacher Appreciation Day.”
-Ben Sitton, Campus Executive Director, AIM Atlanta
“Mike Morgan was selected as the AIM Indianapolis instructor of the year for many reasons. Mike has been instrumental in developing new training aids, such as the JT – 8 engine with functional thrust reverse and the Cabin-Atmosphere mock-up improvements. Mike works on projects outside the bounds of normal class hours and is always successful in getting students involved with the extra projects. Mike is an excellent instructor in the classroom and while students claim they are joking about switching shifts to ensure they have class with him, I think they are only half joking. Mike is a mentor and role model for his students and co-workers. We are proud to have Mike on staff at AIM Indy.”
-Andy Duncan, Campus Executive Director, AIM Indianapolis
“James Heaver has worked on 8 different aircraft fleet types, for 3 different Airlines and has been an instructor for the past 12 years. James has held many position in the aviation field, such as Airline General Maintenance Manual Instructor, Engine Run & Taxi Instructor and FAA FAR Part 147 Director of Education, which make him a well-rounded educator for our campus. In April of 2017, we honored James by choosing him as AIM Manassas’ “Instructor of the Year.” Thank you for all that you do!”
– Marion Dobbins, Campus Executive Director, AIM Manassas
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
The 6th Annual Southwest Region FAR 147 PAMA Olympics was held March 28th and drew nine regional school participants. Tarrant County College once again played host to this year’s competition and welcomed teams from across the southwest, to include our own teams representing AIM – Dallas and AIM – Houston.
Each team consisted of five ‘Olympians.’ Competition consisted of twelve 20‐minute labs, with judges scoring each contestant. They would move to their next lab. The contestants were given a five minute evaluation time, reading the next lab sheet without touching the equipment.
An annual favorite of coaches and students alike, Operation C.H.A.O.S. presented team coaches with a pile of miscellaneous parts and minimal tools, and were then challenged to design a specific assembly. The event, the brainchild of John Eslinger, is judged by a simple vote by team members.
The competition’s focus has always been to bring the various FAR 147 schools together to exchange ideas and allow the students to interact and network with other like-minded future aviation professionals. And, of course, have a good time.
Congratulations to all the contestants!
Students from AIM Houston (AMH) recently had the opportunity to compete for this year’s Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) SportAir scholarship, a $500 award that can be used for any purpose related to their education. We would like to extend our congratulations to this year’s winner, Phat Tran, for his short essay addressing the topic of, “Challenges of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles.”
Although multiple students entered the competition, Tran’s essay was selected for its superior content and presentation.
EAA is a growing and diverse organization of members with a wide range of aviation interests and backgrounds. EAA was founded in 1953 by a group of individuals in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, who were interested in building their own airplanes. Through the decades, the organization expanded its mission to include antiques, classics, warbirds, aerobatic aircraft, ultra-light sport aircraft, helicopters and contemporary manufactured aircraft.