Teams of Utah State University aviation students recently showed off their flying and aircraft maintenance skills by excelling at two regional aviation competitions.
Two teams of aviation maintenance students competed at the Intermountain West A&P School Competition, participating in 12 different events such as rigging a helicopter rotor head and installing ignition systems on an engine.
Matt Tweedy, Austin Joy and Carson Parkinson took first place, and Bill Brown, Aiden Ko and Jacob Johnson took fourth place out of 13 teams.
“The teams put in the hours to practice and prepare, but at the end of the day, they’re using the same basic skills they’re learning in our classrooms and lab training,” said Randy Chesley, program coordinator for aviation maintenance training. “It shows we have good students who are ready to learn and good instructors who know how to teach.”
The students are preparing now for the national Aerospace Maintenance Competition that will be in Chicago during spring semester.
“These competitions help us show the aviation industry that we are training excellent technicians here in Utah who will go on to be the next industry leaders,” Chesley said.
The USU collegiate flight team, the Flying Aggies, competed at Region 1 SAFECON, showing off their skills in nine ground and flying events such as aircraft recognition and short-field landing.
The team placed third overall and received the Safety Award for displaying the highest level of professionalism and being the most safety-focused team in the competition.
“That’s something we hold very highly because when it comes to aviation, safety is everything,” said Brandon Nelson, team captain. “Safety and professionalism are things you can’t take lightly. So being recognized for how much care we put into that was fantastic.”
Currently, the USU Flying Aggies includes Devin Adams, Aloha Allen, Jared Barrus, Brady Bartlett, Exi Gipson, Ben Hensley, Christopher Hunter, Shafer Kam, Hunter Jensen, Korbin Kane, Jenna Massaro, Connor McCuskey, Elli Moen, Richard Rose, and Brandon Nelson.
Next up for these students is the May 2024 National SAFECON competition in Janesville, Wisconsin.
“We’re all competitive people, so these competitions are a really fun and motivating way for us to test ourselves and improve the skills we’ll be using in our future careers,” Nelson said.
Aviation Technology Associate Department Head Andreas "Baron" Wesemann attributes USU's success at these events to the team's experience and commitment. Instructors, faculty advisers and returning students who have participated in past competitions have leveraged their knowledge to create training routines for the entire team.
“Success breeds success as they return with lessons learned about how to better prepare the other students,” Baron said. “Each program has built training aids tailored to the specific events, and the advisers bring their expertise to help the students prepare.”
Participating in aviation competitions can help students gain valuable experience and opportunities for their future careers, according to Bruce Miller, head of USU’s Department of Aviation Technology.
“The flight and maintenance competitions provide the direct benefit of building leadership, teamwork and communication skills for our students,” Miller said. “It also provides the opportunity to network with students from other institutions and industry sponsors. I know of several students who were offered internship or career positions in the aviation industry due to their contact at a competition event.”
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, growth in the aviation industry will be around 4% annually for the next decade in all areas, including pilots, mechanics, unmanned aircraft systems (drones) pilots and operations managers.
“All aspects of the aviation industry continue to expand,” Miller said. “USU’s aviation technology program works to provide a solid training environment that prepares students to be successful as they enter their chosen careers.”
To learn more about the Aviation Technology Department at Utah State University, visit https://caas.usu.edu/avte/.
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