Immanuel is a student at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University who hopes to one day return to his homeland in Nigeria and improve the safety of air travel.
Cory is planning on using the aviation maintenance skills gained in the U.S. Marine Corps to land a job in nondestructive inspection.
Serena is eager to show that the industry isn’t just for men; women can also exceed and make a great, tremendous contribution to aircraft maintenance and safety.
At the Aerospace Maintenance Competition Presented by Snap-on (AMC), everyone has a story to tell.
These are just three of the more than 400 stories waiting to be heard when the competition kicks off April 8-11 at the Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta.
The AMC provides a venue for professional AMTs and students to come together, test their skills against each other and develop a strong sense of camaraderie over two days of friendly competition. Teams compete to see who’s best in six divisions: Commercial Aviation, General Aviation, Space, School, Military, and MRO/OEM. Each event has a 15-minute time limit. The action is exciting, fast-paced and great drama for spectators to watch.
Admission to the AMC is free with your MRO Americas convention credentials. So, if you’re in Atlanta next month, check out the AMC and follow the stories of these technicians looking to make an impact.
Immanuel Bankole, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University
Growing up in his native Nigeria, Immanuel Bankole knew air travel was a risky proposition.
“Aviation safety in Nigeria hasn’t gotten that far because of poor management. When I was growing up there were a lot of plane crashes,” Bankole said. “So, I started asking what type of training I could get so I could do something to change the situation. That’s when I found out about being an AMT.”
Looking to pursue his dream, Bankole came to the United States two years ago and enrolled at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach, FL. Last year, Bankole and other students formed a maintenance club, and, with the help of sponsors, are competing in in the AMC.
“I like the teamwork aspect of the AMC,” he said. “It’s one thing for everyone to work individually, but it’s another to work together, and that’s what we’re working on now.
“We are thankful for the opportunity to be sponsored and for the support our school has given us for training. Hopefully we can make a difference at the competition.”
Bankole hopes to use education in aviation maintenance and engineering to someday return to Nigeria and improve aviation safety.
Cory Schwendemann, U.S. Marine Corps MALS 39
There are going to be some events at the AMC, like sheet metal inspection, that Sgt. Cory Schwendemann excels at. And there are likely going to be a few other, such as turbine engine repair, that will be a bit of a learning experience and that’s OK with him.
Schwendemann, a member on one of five U.S. Marine Corps teams competing in the AMC, said he’s looking forward to working together and learning new tricks of the trade in aircraft maintenance.
“I think I’ll do well in those events where my background in structures comes into play, but I’m sure I’ll encounter things in areas where my knowledge is limited,” he said. “It will be eye-opening to see how everything works.”
A veteran of the Marine Corps for the past seven years, Schwendemann is in charge of the metal, welding, and paint shops of Marine Aviation Logistics Squadron 39 at Camp Pendleton, CA. He is leaving the service in December and hopes to land a job in the field of nondestructive testing within aviation.
“Hopefully I’ll learn some new skills and technology at the AMC to bring back with me and train the Marines in my shops,” he said. “I know we’re all looking forward to it.”
Serena Cross, Royal Canadian Air Force 435 Squadron
Growing up in Canada, Serena Cross shadowed her father endlessly and his mechanical skills easily rubbed off on her.
“I’d always be out helping him fix the tractor and the cars. I like taking things apart and putting them back together, so working on aircraft seemed like a natural next step for me,” she said.
Cross followed in her father’s footsteps and joined the Royal Canadian Air Force 14 years ago. Today, she works as an aviation technician on C-130 Hercules aircraft.
Cross was inspired to form a team for the AMC after hearing about the positive experiences of friends on last year’s Royal Canadian Air Force team.
“Because it’s a global stage, we’re hoping to take away best practices with other aircraft maintenance engineers from around the world and getting exposure to different aircraft and tools we wouldn’t normally see,” she said. “Our team is just very excited to see what the AMC is all about.”
Cross is hoping her experience at the AMC will inspire other women to see that females can do the job just as well as their male counterparts.
“I think this exposure will help remove the stigma and demonstrate that being a woman in a male-dominated trade means you can succeed,” she said. “I think it’s a good career for any gender.”
Dakota Dawley, Western Michigan University
Dakota Dawley knew as a child that he was destined to be up in the skies or help people safely get there.
“Ever since I was young, I always loved to go flying,” he said. “I always begged my parents to get me tours at the local airport and I loved every moment of it.
“I remember one time, the pilot actually let me take control of the airplane for a while, and that probably sealed the basket right there.”
As he’s gotten older, his plans have shifted a bit to maintaining aircraft. Dawley is currently a junior enrolled in the Aviation Technical Operations program at Western Michigan University. He’s also working toward a double major, earning a degree in flight science as well.
Dawley said he’s hoping his experience at the AMC will give him more exposure to the industry he loves.
“I’m definitely looking forward to meeting a lot of people, getting to know what the industry consists of, what it has to offer, and just have a good time with my teammates,” he said. “It will be a new experience, but I think it’s going to be great for us and our school.”
This is the school’s first appearance in the AMC.
Imran Zaveri and Rebecca Hines, Rock Valley College
Another school making its inaugural appearance in the AMC is Rock Valley College in Rockford, IL. Imran Zaveri and Rebecca Hines, two of the team’s leaders, say they’re looking forward to the challenge of competing.
“It’s a good way for us to network and compete at the same time, form connections with the industry, and really showcase our skills,” Zaveri said. “I personally enjoy the challenge.”
“The appeal for me to compete in the AMC is for us to go beyond the classroom, beyond what we’re learning, and put us in touch with the industry,” Hines added. “Even if we come in dead last, what a great experience and fantastic journey for us in getting here.”
Both students are officers in the school’s aviation maintenance club. Upon graduating this spring, Zaveri would like to work on turbine engines, while Hines’ dream job would be to find an opportunity with the Federal Aviation Administration.
As the event draws near, the students are hoping to represent Rock Valley College and its aviation program well in Atlanta.
“We don’t want this to be a one-hit wonder, we want this to be something the school participates in annually and hopefully we can build a legacy,” Hines said.
“Rockford is a growing aerospace hub with great opportunities,” Zaveri said. “We’d like to bring some recognition back to the community and to the college for supporting us.”
Zaveri was a 2018 AMT Next Gen Award winner.
Steve Staedler is a senior account executive at LePoidevin Marketing, a Brookfield, WI-based business-to-business marketing firm that specializes in the tooling and aerospace industries. Steve has been covering aeronautical maintenance for more than 10 years; is a former newspaper reporter and retired master sergeant from the U.S. Air Force Reserve, where he worked maintenance and public affairs. He can be reached at [email protected], (262) 754-9550, www.lepoidevinmarketing.com.