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‘It’s something I thought I’d never be able to do in high school’ says Grade 12 aviation student

ADSB program teaches students about all aspects of aviation, opportunities available
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Algoma District School Board’s Aviation and Aerospace co-op program students log personal flight hours on aircraft such as this Cessna 172 at the Sault Academy of Flight, shown in this Nov. 16, 2019 photo

The Algoma District School Board’s Aviation and Aerospace co-op program continues to inspire students to pursue careers in aviation upon graduation from high school, ADSB administrators and trustees learned at Tuesday’s board meeting.

The semester program has been in place within the ADSB system since 2018.

“I was really excited about all the amazing opportunities that we had, like all of our certifications and to actually go up and fly with Doug (Snedden, a pilot with nearly 40 years of experience in aviation) was awesome,” said White Pines Grade 12 student Shannon Lee, addressing the board virtually.

“I’m graduating this year and taking a gap year to travel and after that I’m going to choose an aviation program and become a pilot,” Lee said.

“Next year I’ll be going to Sault College for the aviation program,” said Korah Collegiate Grade 12 student, Noah Ficociello, another student in the ADSB Aviation and Aerospace co-op program.

“It was an incredible opportunity, something that I thought I’d never be able to do in high school,” said Grade 12 student, Matti Michaud.

“I had actually forgotten that aviation had been a career choice of mine when I was younger and I had just never really known how to get in there, into the system, and this was an excellent stepping stone.”

The program led Michaud to a co-op placement at Springer Aerospace.

“That was excellent time spent. I’m feeling even more employable now with work time under my belt and it looks great on a resume. We did a multitude of certifications, First Aid, CPR, those are big ones," which, Michaud said, has helped him secure summer employment for this upcoming June. "It’s definitely preparing us for global and local markets. There are a lot of aviation opportunities available in the Sault.”

Apart from logging personal flight time through the Sault Academy of Flight and in-class flight simulation, students in the program take compulsory education in CPR, standard first aid and WHMIS training.

This year, students also successfully passed a Restricted Operator Certificate (ROC) aviation radio license certification.

Elective courses in the program include;

  • Compass/map/global positioning system (GPS)
  • Confined space awareness
  • Elevated work platforms
  • Fall protection
  • Fire safety and fire extinguisher use
  • Health and safety - basic
  • Working at heights

Co-op placement opportunities are available at the Sault Ste. Marie Airport, JD Aero, Springer Aerospace and other sites.

Students learn not only about flight itself but also about aircraft maintenance and repair, as well as design and manufacturing and the jobs available in all those fields.

They may earn four credits in the semester program with an option to get a fifth credit in Machine Shop Fundamentals at Sault College.

Students may acquire information about the program from their school’s guidance counsellor, then fill out an application (the board looking for Grade 11 and 12 students in particular, from CASS, White Pines, Superior Heights and Korah), obtain teacher references and pass an interview in order to get into the program.

The Aviation and Aerospace program’s originator is Korah teacher Joe Luxton, who studied aircraft structural repair and worked for six years for Bombardier before getting into teaching.

Jennifer MacIntosh, ADSB Specialist High Skills Major lead, speaking to the board Tuesday, noted the completion rate by ADSB students in Aviation and Aerospace is significantly higher than the province-wide completion rate. 

Trustees and administrators encouraged the students at Tuesday's meeting to stay in touch with the ADSB as they progress in their aviation careers after graduation from high school and to become mentors to others going through the Aviation and Aerospace program.