Working on the Next Level

Project Description

Randall Pearson

Pittsburgh Campus, PA
Program: Aviation Maintenance Technology (AMT)
Employment: Assembly Operations Manager, Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne

One Pittsburgh Institute of Aeronautics graduate’s training has led him into a career that is beyond the scope of ‘typical’ aviation. Randall Pearson (2006) is working on a team that builds the RL10 rocket engine for Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne. “Randall Pearson not only builds the engine but also travels to customer sites across the country in supporting the product,” says Joe Sicilia, Assembly Operations Manager for Pratt and Whitney Rocketdyne in West Palm Beach, Florida.

These engines are not your ordinary jet engines. “The RL10’s main purpose is to place satellites into orbit for the military and for commercial customers: although it also powers interplanetary missions,” Pearson explains. “The RL10 is a liquid hydrogen powered upper stage rocket engine, [of which] there are two models depending on which vehicle they ‘fly’ on.” He indicates that the RL10A-4 is used for the Atlas Centaur upper stage on the Atlas V vehicle, while the RL10B-2 is the engine currently used for the upper stage of the Delta IV launch vehicle. Both were designed as the final payload push and operate under little atmospheric pressure.

Pearson’s training at PIA was able to start him off in the right direction to a career that is out of this world. He says that PIA helped him learn how to think things through, follow directions, and work as a team member.  Pearson mentioned that PIA instructors taught him to be responsible and reliable with his time and work. “Every minute counts!” he says.

It seems that Pratt and Whitney Rocketdyne’s Joe Sicilia appreciates the high quality training earned by PIA graduates. Sicilia, a 1970 graduate himself, shares that Pearson “is in good company of other PIA grads” as more than half of his mechanics received their training at the Pittsburgh Institute of Aeronautics. “PIA graduates are often looked at first when hiring new mechanics because of their proven performance record.”