Randall Pearson’s PIA training led him to a career that’s out of this world: working on a team that builds the RL10 rocket engine for Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne.
“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.
Pratt and Whitney Rocketdyne Assembly Operations Manager Joe Sicilia — himself a 1970 PIA grad — still appreciates the quality of PIA training: more than half of his mechanics, like Pearson, received their training at PIA. “PIA graduates are often looked at first when hiring new mechanics because of their proven performance record,” said Sicilia.