Making PIA Skills Work

Project Description

Justin Chabek

Youngstown Campus, OH
Aviation Maintenance Technology (AMT)
Employment: GE Aviation, Assembly Mechanic

Going from jumping out of planes to working on them was something that Justin Chabek never really imagined, but that’s exactly what happened.  

Justin spent three years in the United States Army Airborne Infantry and completed jumps out of C130s, C17s, and Black Hawk helicopters.  As a civilian Justin became interested in aviation and started exploring his options.  Since PIA is a VA benefit approved school, Justin was able to use his GI Bill to help pay for tuition.  

“My uncle works for Delta, and he told me PIA grads are extremely successful mechanics,” Justin said. “He knew PIA was the best route for me to go.  I toured Youngstown and saw their hangar with a Cessna, a Beechcraft, and all their engines.  I didn’t want to go to school for a long time, so the 16 month [aviation maintenance technician] program was perfect for me.”

Shortly before graduating from the PIA Youngstown Branch Campus in December 2013, Justin already had two job offers.  He accepted his first position with CommutAir after they conducted on-campus interviews.  Justin found the placement process really helpful and was confident PIA was starting him off with a successful career.  

Since then, Justin has happily tried his hand at a few different positions.

“I’ve done a lot in a short time.  Every job I’ve taken was a step in the right direction.  The pay kept getting better, and I’ve learned a lot,” Justin said. “I’ve worked regular overnight aircraft maintenance, took a temporary [non-aviation] job working on industrial pumps, then moved to private jets, where I got to do complete overhauls on Beechcrafts.”

Today, Justin works for GE Aviation in Cincinnati, Ohio as an assembly mechanic on marine industrial turbine engines.  Specifically, Justin’s role is to build the low pressure turbine (LPT).  

“I get to build brand new turbines,” Justin said. “I unbox the parts so there’s no oil, dirt, or rust, and that part is really nice.  At PIA one of the best things was when we tore down engines, rebuilt them, and actually ran them.  It was the first time I ever did something like that.  This is a great job, and right now, it’s perfect for me.”

As a student at PIA-Youngstown, Justin felt his instructors were very knowledgeable, and he especially loved the fact that they all had thorough backgrounds in the aviation industry.

“My teachers were mechanics,” Justin said. “They’ve actually worked the jobs we’re trying to get, and they knew exactly what they were talking about.  They geared our education to succeed in the workforce, and because of that, PIA grads are well respected everywhere.”

“I’m going to continue working in aviation, that’s for sure,” Justin said. “What’s great is that if anything does happen I can take my skills and knowledge anywhere and work on any kind of engine.”

Justin’s younger brother, Greg, is currently enrolled at PIA-Youngstown and is expecting graduation in December 2017.

“He’s doing really well. He’s actually doing better than me,” Justin joked about his brother.  “He’s top of his class.  I’m happy for him.”