Preparing for take off

NSCC Aviation Mechanical Engineering program helps grads find their passion and turn it into a meaningful career

Nova Scotia Community College aviation mechanical engineer student Sarah Brunette inspects a variable-pitch propeller. Photo: Andrew Kudel

Working on real aircraft at the Nova Scotia Community College Aviation Institute in Dartmouth allows students to know what awaits them after graduation.

For Sarah Brunette, a love of aviation drew her to the airplane mechanical engineering program. She's in the final year of the two-year program and her goal is to continue developing her passion through education.

The 21-year-old aviation mechanical student has been interested in mechanics since she was young.

"My dad, whenever he was fixing anything, would say ‘Sarah come help, let's go do this.' I've really been interested in that (mechanics)."

Her love for aviation blossomed when she was a teenager. She received her private pilot and glider licence after completing a licensing scholarship program through air cadets.

Adam Desrochers entered the program on the advice of some family members. He says that he had some interest in mechanics while growing up but he never considered himself an enthusiast. The 19-year-old is also in his second year and feels the program has helped him discover a new passion.

"I always thought it's pretty cool how airplanes fly and its pretty cool finding out about everything that needs to work for them to actually fly."

Faculty member John Meider says that the road isn't always easy for students, especially when they run into problems with getting engines to start for the first time.

"You've got times when students seem to be having difficulties, almost seem like they can't overcome it, and then one day they overcome it. That's a wonderful thing to see."

The college is preparing the mechanical engineering students for a range of careers in aviation. The Aviation Institute is located at the Dartmouth Gate building and features a 43,000-square-foot training facility.

Students are able to work on real aircraft and routinely take apart and rebuild an aircraft's structural and mechanical components. In June 2009 there were 31 graduates from the program, with 26 finding jobs after graduation.

Graduates have many options. Some of the most prominent employers include Halifax based IMP Group, Air Canada Jazz - which offers jobs across the country - and Great Slave Helicopters located in Yellowknife, Meider said.
These job prospects keep students motivated.

"I'd like to get a job anywhere's really," says Desrochers. "I am looking for helicopter maintenance if I could. I want to get more in-depth with the helicopters. "

His dream job is to "go some where's up North, work on helicopters and make lots of money."


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