North Idaho College Receives FAA Approval on Aviation Maintenance Tech Program

NIC’s Aviation Maintenance Tech program, a return flight

Story by Tom Greene, NIC Communications Coordinator

To do its part in World War II, North Idaho College (then called North Idaho Junior College) trained hundreds of students as pilots and aircraft mechanics. After the war, when the need for aviation-related workers dwindled, so did the Aviation Mechanic classes, which gave way to automotive mechanic classes in the 1950s.

The NIJC Aviation Mechanics quarters circa 1947-48.
The NIJC Aviation Mechanics quarters circa 1947-48.

That need is back.

“With the upcoming certification from the Federal Aviation Administration, we’re opening – or, really, re-opening – Aviation Maintenance Technician training at NIC,” said Pat O’Halloran, NIC Aerospace director. “We’ve come full circle.”

airfram technician performs work
NIC Lab Technician Mike McGinnis performs maintenance on an aircraft at the NIC Aerospace Center for Excellence. The center is in the process of being certified by the FAA to be an Aviation Maintenance Technician school.

Students who commit to a 12-month training program through the NIC Aerospace Center can start Aug. 24 and become eligible to sit for the required FAA Airframe Mechanic exams by August 2016. O’Halloran said the program certification is the result of collaborating with the FAA for more than 18 months.

“This project came about because of industry demand. The Idaho Department of Labor and the industry group, Idaho Aerospace Alliance, showed the need. NIC listened, wrote the grant, and now this completes the set of programs that grant promised to deliver,” O’Halloran said.

NIC received a nearly $3 million federal grant in late 2012, which helped create the Aerospace Center in Hayden that has offered Advanced Manufacturing programs since the fall of 2013. To date, 87 students have been taught hands-on skills fabricating and repairing composite parts, operating a CNC mill, or learned about non-destructive testing methods in that program.

“At least 26 graduates that we know of are currently working in related employment.” O’Halloran said. “Between Airway Heights and here, there more than 70 manufacturers which do a percentage of their business in aerospace — even more when you look further north in Idaho to Quest, Aerocet, Cygnus and Tamarack.”

Kodiak on Aerocet floats
A Kodiak Aircraft takes off. This plane is an Idaho product built by Quest Aircraft Co. of Sandpoint on Aerocet composite floats made in Priest River.

By adding Aviation Maintenance, NIC is addressing another, complementary need of the industry.

“This program was long in the making because safety is rightfully a big focus in aviation, and therefor FAA rules for approving maintenance schools are very specific,” O’Halloran said.

The rewards for students look promising: According to the Idaho Department of Labor, Aircraft Mechanics in the state have a median salary of $22 an hour, with even higher average wages across the nation.

“Now we just need to fill those seats,” O’Halloran said.

There are still spots available to enroll in the year-long program, which begins Aug. 24.

“There are more than 200 Idaho companies serving the aerospace industry — an industry with an income average above $50,000,” O’Halloran said. “These are solid jobs with a bright future. Our faculty and staff are excited to be a part of bringing NIC back into serving this field.”

For story info:           Patrick O’Halloran, NIC Aerospace director, (208) 676-7145 or


June 2015 IDA Northern Region Meet and Greet

June Meet and Greet brings emergency preparedness into focus, Mexican style.

Everyone seemed to have a great time and enjoyed the food as we tried a new venue, Azteca Southwest Grill, Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, for the IDA Northern Region Meet and Greet. The Mexican fare was delicious and the staff and service were outstanding.

Our featured speaker was Mr.  Mark Jacobus of Power Check. POWERCheck was founded in 2013 after witnessing the devastating effects of Hurricane Sandy while located in New Jersey.

POWERCheck specializes in Emergency Power Oversight focusing on helping clients develop comprehensive Disaster Preparedness and Contingency Planning for Emergency Standby Power.

In addition, POWERCheck provides consulting services for Emergency Power Supply Systems (EPSS) such as power system vendor oversight, compliances standardization, ‘right-sized’ equipment sourcing, and in-service training.

Mark provided the group with solutions to tough questions like “How would an extended outage impact your business and major contracts?”, and many others.

Overall the presentation was very informative and thought provoking. A poll found that the majority of attendees thought the information very useful.

Garry Hojan, IDA President, gave an update on membership, 501(C)6 application status, the newly drafted budget and exciting plans for the future.

Represented were; The Inland Northwest Aerospace Consortium, North Idaho College-Aerospace Center of Excellence, Idaho Department of Labor-Post Falls, Boundary County Economic Development CouncilTechHelp Idaho along with a good number of member companies such as Titan Spring/TSI Technologies, Lightning Tool and Manufacturing, Space ScrewCygnus, Inc., Empire Airlines, Aerocet Aerospace Manufacturing, and Novation, Inc.

Next Northern Region Meet and Greet will be held November 4th with a location to be determined.

Would you like more information on the Idaho Aerospace Alliance? Please email us at

Would you like to become a member? An online membership application can be found here online application


UPDATE 6/2/15 CNC Machinist /COMPOSITE FABRICATORS / Gelcoat Repair

Aerocet, Inc. a composite aircraft float manufacturer in Priest River, ID, has open positions for Composite Fabricators. Please check out our website at for more information on our company. To apply, please come into our office at 265 Shannon Lane, Priest River, ID; email Linda Headrick, Human Resources, at for an application; or call 208-448-0400. An onsite assessment test is required to complete your application. Qualified applicants require reference check, drug screen and background check.

CNC Machinist

Job Title: CNC Machinist Department: Machining
Location: Machining Travel: N/A
Level/Salary Range: Base + Position Type: Full-Time
Job Summary:
Set up and operate CNC vertical machining centers and CNC turning center.

Job Duties:
Set up and operate VMC’s using multiple fixture offsets.
Set up and operate lathe.
Verify parts by inspecting against drawings.
Clean machines and shop area as required.

Core Competencies:
Min. 5 years CNC machining experience.
Min. 3 years experience with Haas machines.
Able to work well alone.
Ability to read and understand technical drawings.
Must be able to use standard measurement tools.

Composite Fabricator

Job Summary:
Fabricate and assemble according to manufacturing orders and drawings.
Laminate layers of cloth on molds with resins to form products.
Attach, grind and fit composite parts to floats using fasteners and composite bonding with attention to detail.
Job Duties:
Reliable team player.
Measure, cut and lay fiberglass cloth for proper placement
Infuse fiberglass cloth with resin; do wet lay-up and/or adhesive bonding.
Trim and fit bulkheads, doors, weather stripping, and electrical bonding of fasteners.
Routing, grinding and finish sanding of composite materials.
Visually inspect for errors.
Use proper personal protection equipment, including a respirator, when mixing and using chemicals, or whenever needed.
Work according to production schedules.
Any other duties, as assigned by the department manager.
Core Competencies:
Operate mechanical and electrical small hand tools.
Able to read and work according to manufacturing order specifications.
Ability to perform accurate weights and measures.
Ability to read and follow blue print drawings.
Conduct quality control checks.
High School Diploma/GED
Composite Technician Certificate preferred.

Gelcoat Repair Technician


Job Title: Gelcoat Repair Technician Department: Production
Location: Building 1 Travel: n/a
Level/Salary Range: Base + Position Type: Full-time
Job Summary:
Demonstrated ability to perform highly complex repairs and address gel coat defects using hand tools and power tools with little or no supervision. May assist with training. A background with experience in automotive paint/repair industry would be helpful.
Job Duties:
Examines parts for mold and lamination defects, such as cracks, air pockets, and cosmetic flaws.
Uses independent judgment for corrective action/repair.
Grinds out defective areas, smoothes rough edges/areas with appropriate power and hand tools.
Cuts fiberglass, mixes resin and catalyst, and applies patch to defective area.
Shapes and smoothes edges to match contour of area to be patched.
Mixes gelcoat with catalyst and sprays repaired surfaces.
Buffs and polishes repaired gelcoat surfaces.
Follow defined instructions and procedures in performance of tasks.
Follow prescribed safety rules and regulations and maintain safe, clean work areas.
Perform other related duties as necessary and assigned.
Core Competencies:
Previous work-related skill, knowledge, or experience in gelcoat or automotive painting/sanding/body repair work is required.
Operate mechanical and electrical small hand tools.
Able to read and work according to manufacturing order specifications,
Ability to perform accurate weights and measures.
Ability to read and follow blue print drawings.
Conduct quality control checks.
Able to lift 50 pounds and be able to be exposed to dust and other non-toxic chemical vapor.
Work well in team environment.
High School Diploma/GED
Reviewed By: Linda Headrick Date: 02/10/2015
Last Updated By: Brian Cass Date/Time: 02/10/2015