Pittsburgh Campus, PA
Program: Aviation Maintenance Technology (AMT)
Employment: Propulsion Technician, Space Exploration Technologies
Chris Hofmann is on the build team for the second stage engine that can be found on the Falcon 9 rocket.
Designed and manufactured by SpaceX, Falcon 9 is the first rocket completely developed in the 21st century, according to www.spacex.com. This two-stage rocket is designed for safe and reliable transport of satellites and SpaceX’s Dragon spacecraft into orbit. Hofmann explained that his team’s engine, the Merlin Vacuum Engine, or MVAC-D, isn’t your typical engine.
“It is designed to operate in the vacuum of space,” Hofmann said.
Hofmann works as part of a six-man team which is exclusively responsible for this particular engine.
When Hofmann began his training at PIA, he had previous experience working with National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) and NASCAR vehicles.
“Having that kind of a background made me very mechanically inclined,” Hofmann said.
In addition to his technical background, he credits PIA for cultivating his skills and laying a foundation for success in the aerospace industry.
“I work with some very talented engineers, but they don’t always know the mechanical ins and outs of what we do,” Hofmann said.
“I worked with people of all different backgrounds and experiences at PIA,” Hofmann said. “It makes you rethink how to attack challenges and communicate with your coworkers and teammates.”
Hofmann offered some advice to those who may be considering training toward their A&P.
“Go for it,” Hofmann said. “The A&P is highly respected in aviation and aerospace, and will help you for reasons beyond a better starting pay.”
“Always remember that it is a license to keep learning as you work on new and exciting things.”