Russell Wheatley earned a degree in electrical engineering from a four-year college, but he found that the work wasn’t what he expected: “I was making wiring schematics, which was a lot of computer work and not hands-on — a lot of sitting still all day.”
After trying different jobs in his field, Wheatley decided to earn an A&P Certification at PIA. With his prior experience, being able to assist other students who needed help earned him the 2015 Aviation Technician Education Council (ATEC) Student of the Year Award, an honor that’s awarded to just one student in the nation each year.
Wheatley accepted a job at Dynamic Aviation, where gets to do something different and hands-on every day. “We work with a lot of old planes, and there’s a lot of troubleshooting, [so] you have to work with what you’ve got,” he says. Wheatley also notes that his A&P license helps him stand out: “I am one of four in the avionics shop, but I’m the only one with an A&P. It’s definitely been a factor.”