The following article was originally published on arsa.org, and reprinted with permission from author and ARSA Vice President of Operations, Brett Levanto. The student scholarship was funded by ARSA and facilitated through the Choose Aerospace award program.
In November, ARSA awarded its 2020 scholarship to C. Owen Ritzman of Southern Utah University. Ritzman is an AMT student whose love of getting his hands dirty is matched only by his excitement at solving complex engineering problems.
The grant is part of Choose Aerospace’s 2020 Aviation Maintenance Scholarship and Award Program. ARSA and its partner organizations combined to sponsor more than $25,000 worth of scholarships, textbooks, training systems and testing fee credits for educators and future aviators.
Ritzman took the time to share the impact of his experiences so far and his hopes for the future. His answers to a few simple questions illustrate his curiosity and commitment to hard work; a story that began in his father’s garage and will hopefully continue in shops or hangars for decades to come.
(1) What made you decide to pursue aviation maintenance training?
When I was five or six years old, my dad bought a new truck and invited me to help him put the running boards on. I can’t imagine that I was really any help, but I specifically remember being so proud that I had gotten grease on my hands from helping. I colored black spots on my hands with crayon for a few days so that I could show all of my friends how cool it was!
As I got a little older, I told my parents that I wanted to be a car mechanic. They lovingly suggested that I keep that as a hobby. Through high school, I went through a lot of different degree and career plans. Engineer, national park ranger, wildlife biologist and even helicopter pilot. I quickly discovered that the last one made me sick. But when I was investigating piloting at Southern Utah University, I discovered the newly founded AMT program and that quickly proved to be the answer to my love of mechanical work and my desire to not be limited to an auto shop for my whole life.
(2) What experience or experiences did you have before you started at SUU that have been most valuable to you during school?
I would consider two things of most value to me prior to my experience here at SUU. The first is the countless hours I spent in the garage with my dad or on my own, learning the ins and outs of how cars worked. Without that basis of how tools work, how engines work, and how to problem solve, I would be lost in aviation.
I would say the critical thinking I was able to learn in high school is of even more value, however. Aircraft require a higher level of precision than anything I ever wrenched on in my driveway. Being able to have the mathematical, reading, writing and communication skills I learned through high school have been invaluable to me in AMT school. Though I wouldn’t have entered this field without my mechanical background, I would never last without the critical thinking ability.
(3) What have you found to be most surprising/unexpected about AMT school?
Before I started AMT school, I didn’t realize how fragile aircraft actually are. As I have had the chance to work hands-on, I have discovered just how easily something very important and very expensive can break. I had always imagined aircraft being tough, solid, and hard to break, but mindlessly pushing on the wrong thing can do extensive damage.
Because of this, we spend much more time in classroom instruction than I ever expected. I came prepared for an environment where we would rarely be in lecture but quickly realized that without that time, we would be wasting precious resources once we actually began hands-on work. It was well worth the wait too!
(4) Other than becoming an ARSA member, what are your goals for life after school?
Of course, at my age, plans are constantly changing, but my biggest goals after I finish my schooling are to be able to support a family and live somewhere that I can admire every day. One of the most attractive things to me about working with aviation was the amount of versatility it offers. There is work to be had all across the country. Granted, young inexperienced workers often have to take what they can get. But I am confident that as I gain more and more experience, this field will lead me to the exact places that I want to be.
(5) To help ARSA’s members understand the value of the scholarship, tell us about the expenses you have to cover while at school.
In all honesty, in AMT school, expenses rack up quickly! I was fortunate enough to be offered an academic scholarship from SUU that covers a large part of my standard tuition. However, because of the amazing access we have at SUU to hands-on learning, the fees associated with classes add up to about 160 percent more than an average student would be paying here.
Another thing that added up very quickly was tools. Despite spending hours working on cars, most of the tools I used were not mine. I would estimate that I have already invested about $1,200 in tools. Some of these are very basic, cheap tools to get me through school, and others are high-end precision tools like torque wrenches.
On top of all of this, there are normal living expenses: gas, groceries, rent, car repairs, dates, recreation, etc. Scholarships like the one offered by ARSA make a huge difference in mitigating these expenses. They make it possible to afford the education while still taking care of everything else. And trust me- the money you pay is well worth the education!
(6) If you learned that someone was considering school/career choices and they asked you about aviation maintenance, what would you say?
If someone was considering aviation maintenance, I would tell them that it’s a pretty fool-proof option. There will always be work in this field, so long as they are willing to do just that— work! But even more enticing, it provides an opportunity to do genuinely important tasks every single day. There are few feelings better than seeing your own effort and knowledge put into action. And what better way for it to be in action than flying through the air?
The newly-incorporated Choose Aerospace, a coalition of stakeholders pursuing greater awareness of opportunities in aviation maintenance, is proud to announce its inaugural slate of scholarship and award recipients.
A host of partner organizations sponsored $25,000 worth of scholarships, textbooks, training systems, and testing fee credits for educators and future aviators. Scholarship donors include the Aeronautical Repair Station Association (ARSA), Aviation Supplies & Academics (ASA), Nida Corporation, AVOTEK, Aircraft Technical Book Company (ATBC) and CertTEC.
Choose Aerospace also provided a $2,500 award funded by the organization’s founding steering committee members: United Airlines, Piedmont Airlines, Envoy Air, AAR, PSA Airlines, AVOTEK, Aviation Technical Services, ASA, the Aircraft Mechanics Fraternal Association, ARSA, the Association for Women in Aviation Maintenance, and the Aviation Technician Education Council (ATEC).
Congratulations to this year's award winners:
Choose Aerospace $2500 Scholarship: Angelina Kapp, Southern Illinois University of Carbondale
ARSA $1000 Scholarship: Craig Ritzman, Southern Utah University
ASA $1000 Scholarship:
Avotek Avionics Textbook Set
ATBC A&P Textbook Set:
Avotek Dale Hurst Memorial Instructor Scholarship: Carlos Smith, Middle Tennessee State University
In addition to facilitating the annual award program, the coalition has created a singular resource for students, instructors, schools, and employers to find award opportunities available to the aviation technical community. The new resource is available at chooseaerospace.org/awards.
Choose Aerospace is actively soliciting support for the 2021 award season. To participate, or have an award program listed on the scholarship page linked above, please contact email@example.com.
Choose Aerospace Refines Curriculum project scope, asks for second round of Submissions from Would-Be Development Partners
Choose Aerospace, Inc. is soliciting bids from potential partners to support development of standard aviation technical curriculum. The project is in support of one of the organization’s key objectives: to expand aviation career and technical training and associated career pathways.
This past spring, the organization published a request for proposal (RFP) soliciting ideas and identifying potential partners for its initial project: to create curriculum that aligns with Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) mechanic airman certification standards (ACS). The invitation to bid (ITB) seeks additional information to support a refined project scope and to better understand and baseline each vendor’s proposed product, terms, and costs.
“Fourteen organizations submitted proposals to the RFP, introducing lots of ideas and new technologies that will greatly enhance aviation technical training,” said Choose Aerospace President and AAR Corp Vice President Workforce Development Ryan Goertzen. “We learned a lot during that process, including the need for a refined approach that focuses on an area where we see the biggest need and opportunity.”
The ITB thus focuses in on a high school student audience and development of curriculum that aligns with the general portion of the FAA ACS. The final product will give high schools the opportunity to adopt aviation technical curriculum without the high costs generally associated with those types of programs; and for AMTS, it will create new enrollment streams of students that have already taken the general portion of the airframe and powerplant curriculum.
“We see this as an amazing opportunity to reach students in underserved and minority communities while growing the pipeline” said Goertzen. “It’s a big undertaking, but one we think will make a real and positive impact on training, diversity, and career opportunity.”
Responses to the ITB are due Dec. 1 to Crystal Maguire at firstname.lastname@example.org.
A new organization, with the mission of promoting careers in aviation maintenance, is offering award opportunities for aviation maintenance programs, their instructors, and students. The deadline to apply is Oct. 15, 2020.
Choose Aerospace will provide $25,000 worth of scholarships, textbooks, training systems, and testing fee credits to educators and future aviators. “Trying to kick off a new scholarship program in the midst of a national workforce crises is challenging to say the least, but we have been overwhelmed by the community’s steadfast support to get it off the ground,” said AAR Vice President Workforce Development and Choose Aerospace President Ryan Goertzen. “It illustrates the commitment this industry has to supporting our future leaders, even in the midst of crises.”
Scholarship donors include the Aeronautical Repair Station Association (ARSA), Aviation Supplies & Academics (ASA), Nida Corporation, AVOTEK, Aircraft Technical Book Company and CertTEC. Choose Aerospace will also provide a $2,500 award funded by the organization’s founding steering committee members: United Airlines, Piedmont Airlines, Envoy Air, AAR, PSA Airlines, AVOTEK, Aviation Technical Services, ASA, the Aircraft Mechanics Fraternal Association, ARSA, the Association for Women in Aviation Maintenance, and the Aviation Technician Education Council (ATEC).
“Despite the recent challenges, some schools are seeing record enrollments in aviation technical programs,” said Goertzen. “That is an opportunity for industry, we must keep supporting the workforce pipeline, now more so than ever.”
Eligible applicants must be enrolled at or teach in an aviation technical program. ATEC membership is not required but is a top consideration for the review committee when selecting award recipients. Apply at www.chooseaerospace.org/scholarship.
Newly Incorporated Choose Aerospace, Inc. Elects Board of Directors, Issues Curriculum Project Request for Proposal
An informal coalition, previously facilitated through the Aviation Technician Education Council (ATEC), has officially incorporated and will provide a new vehicle to pursue aviation workforce development initiatives. Choose Aerospace, Inc. is a 501(c)(3), nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting aerospace technical careers. It is a partnership of stakeholders within professional aviation and aerospace industries, joined together to address one of the biggest threats to continued industry growth: the availability of a diverse, qualified technical workforce.
Choose Aerospace’s creation was funded by stakeholder contributions and ATEC member dues. With operational support from ATEC, the organization will unite companies, associations, labor unions, and educational institutions to spur interest in aerospace careers and implement solutions to workforce development challenges.
The following individuals will serve on the initial board of directors--
“We as a community have been pursuing career awareness and workforce development initiatives for some time; we would not be here today if it wasn’t for the early financial support from several aviation organizations, who believed in what we were trying to do,” said Goertzen. “This new 501(c)(3) will give us access to tools and opportunities not previously available to help us meet strategic objectives.”
While the organization’s initial objective was to develop a national career awareness campaign, given the coronavirus-related impacts on technical education, the board has decided to prioritize a second objective: to make aerospace career and technical training a priority in secondary schools.
“School closures have created a real need for computer-based learning options,” said Goertzen. “We think that creates an opportunity to develop standardized aviation technical curriculum that can be used by part 147 schools and secondary education.”
To that end, the organization is identifying potential partners to support project development. Today, it released a request for proposal to develop high-tech and relevant resources for aviation technical programs. For more information, download the RFP below.
Aviation Institute of Maintenance Joins Industry Leaders to Raise Awareness for Careers in Aviation Maintenance, Commits to Support New Campaign, Choose Aerospace
Virginia Beach, Va. (Mar.13, 2019) – The aviation industry faces dire challenges as it strives to recruit enough technicians to keep aircraft flying and airlines operating. Boeing recently reported that the shortage of FAA-certified aircraft technicians has caused a vacuum within the airlines, and 189,000 trained technicians will be needed within the next 20 years. But fewer than 20,000 students across the country are currently enrolled in Aviation Maintenance Technology (AMT) programs. In order to promote aviation maintenance technology for new college students considering a career path, a new coalition of industry leaders called Choose Aerospace is coming together.
Choose Aerospace, an awareness campaign spearheaded by the Aviation Technician Education Council (ATEC), will bring together a coalition of industry stakeholders and educational leaders to quantify staffing needs and promote aerospace technical careers. Hampton Roads-based Aviation Institute of Maintenance (AIM) has signed on as Choose Aerospace’s primary educational sponsor for this venture.
“Aviation Institute of Maintenance is proud to announce its partnership with Choose Aerospace,” said AIM's Director of Education Mark Holloway. “The coalition is a great opportunity for industry leaders to come together on an issue that will detrimentally impact us all if not addressed. The community must find a way to attract a diverse, qualified technical workforce, if we are going to attain the anticipated industry growth projections.” AIM has 12 FAA-Certificated schools teaching aircraft maintenance across the country and is the largest family of aviation maintenance schools in the United States. “Partnering with Choose Aerospace just makes sense as we strive to make a positive impact on the lives of our students and the aviation industry,” Holloway said.
The campaign is a solutions-oriented effort to identify and implement strategies to address the aerospace workforce shortage. Kick-off activities will include market research to pinpoint the target audience and determine what marketing initiatives will have the most impact. Once the initial research is complete, the campaign will focus on brand development and content marketing, and other efforts intended to raise the public’s awareness of career opportunities in aviation maintenance.
AIM joins a growing list of companies, associations, and labor unions joining together to address the aviation workforce challenge. AIM’s Vice President of Operations, Dr. Joel English, explains, “It is clear that United Airlines, Envoy Airlines, PSA Airlines, Piedmont, and the other industry partners who are supporting Choose Aerospace hope to increase the flow of certified professionals to service their aircraft. But this effort addresses not just the problem of a technician shortage; it addresses the problem of the average family not thinking about aerospace as an accessible and lucrative career path. Young people and their families need to understand that programs like ours are efficient educational pathways to lifelong employment. I feel that it was AIM’s duty to get involved with Choose Aerospace in order to increase the population of certified aviation professionals.”
As a Launch Sponsor of Choose Aerospace, AIM has committed to the highest level of support over the next three years in support of Choose Aerospace. AIM is also doubling the capacity to train students at its Hampton Roads campus by moving to a 109,000 square foot campus in Norfolk, Va. The institution is also expanding its campuses in Charlotte, NC, Fremont, Calif., Las Vegas, Nev., and several other campuses around the country. “We look forward to working with ATEC on this venture,” concluded Holloway, “and we can’t wait to see the positive impact it will have for future aviators.”
For more information about the campaign, visit www.chooseaerospace.org.
About Aviation Institute of Maintenance:
Aviation Institute of Maintenance (AIM) is a network of aviation maintenance schools with campuses coast-to-coast across the United States and headquarters located in Virginia Beach, Va. AIM students are trained to meet the increasing global demands of commercial, cargo, corporate and private aviation employers. AIM graduates are eligible to take the FAA exams necessary to obtain their mechanic’s certificate with ratings in both Airframe and Powerplant. AIM’s campuses are located in the following major metro areas: Atlanta, Charlotte, Philadelphia, Dallas, Houston, Indianapolis, Las Vegas, Washington, D.C., Kansas City, Mo., Fremont, Calif., Orlando, Fla., and Norfolk, Va. There are plans to open a campus in the Charlotte metropolitan area.
NEWS: IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 28, 2019
Contact: Brian Snider, email@example.com
Newcastle, WA--ASA is proud to announce partnership with ChooseAerospace.org, in their effort to unite companies, associations, labor unions and educational institutions towards spurring interest in aerospace careers, and to identify and implement solutions for the aerospace workforce shortage. Choose Aerospace is a partnership of aerospace stakeholders joining forces to address one of the biggest threats to continued industry growth: the availability of a diverse, qualified technical workforce.
ASA has been providing training products to students and aviation maintenance technicians for nearly 80 years, and will continue to do so as the need for more technicians increases. “ASA is a leader in the aviation maintenance education community, as evidenced by its willingness to step up and support this new and innovative initiative,” said Aviation Technician Education Council Executive Director Crystal Maguire. “We are thrilled to have the organization on board. Its representatives have decades of experience in educating future aviators, we will lean heavily on their expertise as the campaign moves forward.”
As the shortage looms, ASA remains committed to providing quality training to the next generation of aviation technicians, mechanics, and engineers. We look forward to working closely with Choose Aerospace and its industry partners to ensure a strong and robust future for aviation. More information is available at www.chooseaerospace.org.
Aviation Supplies & Academics, Inc. has been providing trusted aviation training products for nearly 80 years to students, pilots, flight instructors, aviation maintenance technicians, air traffic controllers, career aviators, remote pilots and drone operators. ASA's pilot supplies, software, and publications are supported with integrity, consistency, superior quality, and the best customer service in the industry.
Industry leaders held a live webinar to solicit support for a new campaign focused on creating awareness about careers in aviation maintenance. The webinar provides an overview on anticipated first steps, and the levels of sponsorship available.
View the webinar below, or download the slide deck.