Technical College of the Lowcountry’s mission is to educate and prepare service members to continue careers outside of the military as well as make well rounded service members with a more diverse set of skills to support their respective missions, according to their website. The showcase gave students and the public an opportunity to interact with the attendees to show the new skills they have acquired.
"The experience that service members gain from the Maine Corps is extremely important, however, when you work outside of aircraft in the military you have to be certified to perform certain types of maintenance," said Michael Weiss, the TCL Military Community Liaison. "Their experience, coupled with the certification can earn them a really good wage in the air and nautical industries."
The two courses highlighted at the showcase have been developed over the last four years. The classes are a mix of online, classroom, hands on, and practical shop application. The Aviation Licensing Preparatory course was one of them.
"It’s about a 10-week course and 17 college credit hours," said Sean Henrickson, Director of Veterans Education and Services. "When they complete this they are fully prepared to take their Airframe and Powerplant license through the Federal Aviation Administration. We want experienced aviation mechanics. This is a condensed course, students are screened by the instructors and need 30 months experience with aircraft to begin the course."
Many of the students are active duty or retired military preparing to transition into civilian jobs. For Marines still serving, it is more than just preparation for a job outside of the military.
"When I get out of the Marine Corps in three years I will be a structural mechanic for an airline or private company. What I learn here at TCL Aviation Maintenance Preparatory Course is definitely something I can take back to my squadron," said Sgt. Michael Kelly, an airframe technician with Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 251. "I don’t get to work with engines, electricity, and different aspects of aviation. That is why I came here. I learn a lot more than the scope of what I deal with in my job."
Service members are supported and encouraged by their command to continue their education, using tuition assistance and other government scholarship programs. Many units will work around school schedules to allow Marines to attend these classes.
"My command is very supportive of this schooling. If I need to attend class they work around it," said Kelly. "They are always supportive of extra school. I encourage my junior Marines to attend this course. Three or four of them will be in the next course. It’s not just a tool in the fleet; it will help them later on when they transition out of the military. I think it’s a great program."
The event provided an open forum for instructors, students, prospective students and the local community to learn about a career in professional avionics. It also showed how TCL is providing courses that will utilize service member’s experience and educate them to become FAA Certified.
"This program is going to make service members better mechanics. They will know how to work on more aspects of the aircraft," said Weiss. "They will be able to help other shops and be contributing to the squadron, as well as have an FAA certification."