The AST – Aero Skills Tournament

AST INTRODUCTION

The Aero Skills trades’ tournaments, developed by ATG, are amazing opportunities for raising awareness and creating excitement in order to plant the “aviation trades seed” in potential technicians in their early years in each trade school’s local community. Reaching out at each trade school’s location to the benefit of the industry and everyone is the intention of this exciting program. The tournaments, intended for ALL technicians, from apprentice to journeyperson, will offer an opportunity to demonstrate their skills, individually against one another, by fabricating aircraft parts in a competition format. Demonstrations of other trades skills and new technology are added for better audience engagement. The mechanics, avionics, composites and interiors trades’ competitions will follow in subsequent years. These events will also bring together MROs, trades people, museums and other interested individuals along with representatives from colleges, trades schools, students and other invited public individuals and organizations. Entrants will be competing in different categories and classifications, on a level playing field, with their own (or school’s) tools where the successful winner will be awarded a trip for two to the National Finals. There they will compete head-to-head with the winners from the other regional and local events for cash, prizes and the National Champ bragging rights. Ultimately the main objective is to reach out into each school’s local community and draw an audience of the younger generation and other potential candidates to interest them in becoming an aircraft tradesperson. 

These tournaments will attract, not only people in the industry today, but our target is to attract future college and trades school students who may be looking for and researching a rewarding career. These competitions will be fun and challenging and stimulate interest in each community at large, in exploring the aircraft trades possibilities.

We believe there has never been a better time to be a skilled aircraft technician. The industry is growing rapidly and the future is bright. The full schedule started 2017, second year of the competition, including Local competitions (at each school), Regional competitions (of the eight FAA aerospace cluster regions pending # of entries) and then the National competitions. However, for The Aero Skills Tournament’s (ASTs) Regional Events are, exhibition events in late 2016, open to all structures trades’ people.These inaugural events are the opportunities for other schools and venues to see the events first hand.   

ATG sees the fit for colleges and trades schools as strategic partners in this program, not only as a location for the AST events, but we believe it will also provide opportunities for increasing enrolment in the trades and increased job placement with current and new industry partner relations. With partner participation it will lead to the growth of this competition project and, in turn, expand its inter-related program, the Aviation NETWorX, a network of proven technicians who are connected through this virtual office data communication system (information available upon request). As a college and trade school, we look to you to help us accomplish these goals. We want all of our partners and participants to realize the best return on their investment in this program. We believe this connection to competition helps nurture a healthy work environment, and will pay off for technicians, schools and industry.

At ATG, we know that the most successful partnerships are those where the partners are involved in and committed to a multi-layered, strategic approach; to be involved in all levels of a national and even global industry. When involved in this way, partners can expect the best return on their investment - brand recognition and equity, mentoring / coaching opportunities and direct influence on teachers, students and technicians lives!

A critical reality of the industry is the upcoming and growing skills gap crisis. Also considering the expected growth in commercial travel and the way work force management is done today, there will simply not be enough people to meet those future demands. So far, younger individuals are not being attracted to the trades in sufficient numbers to replace those retiring from the industry, never mind the aviation industries expected growth. Collectively, as partners, we can meet this upcoming crisis head on by raising awareness and creating excitement. With effective, directed promotion, these contests will serve to attract this replacement work force at the trade school level through events, promotions, programs and social media sources. 

The AST – Aero Skills Tournament

The Process

The tournament competitor will make two trips to the designated college or school location over the course of the event week (Wednesday to Saturday for example) – the first visit is to sign-up and register and to fabricate their aircraft parts. The second visit is to assemble the parts on the build day in the timed competition (Saturday or Sunday).

  • Sign-up, Registration & Preregistration
    • The tech completes the registration and waiver forms (approximately 20 minutes)
    • Registration may be in person any event week day or evening – Wednesday to Saturday, at the college or school location indicated in the promotional material
    • Once approved they are issued drawings and materials for the parts build
    • Preregistration may be done on-line with approval being returned on-line. The tech to indicate which day they plan to visit the event location in order to receive their drawings and materials
      • This preregistration is preferred by the organizers as it allows them to know how many to expect for each day
      • Once the preregistration is approved they will visit the site on the date they indicated and are issued their drawings and materials
  • The Fabrication or ‘Fab’ Session (lay out, forming, fitting and prepping)
    • On the day or evening selected for their visit, the tech fabricates their parts in preparation for the build competition (Saturday or Sunday). Being able to select the date they visit the site allows the fab process to be completed and at a time convenient for the competitor prior to the build day.
    • The tech lays out the job from the drawings, forms the parts, fits them together, drills holes and prepares for assembly – time is recorded, parts inspected and judged; Approximately 2 to 3 hrs
    • The inspection of the fabricated parts by the tournament judge(s) will follow, prior to the parts being stored for security until competition day.
  • The Build
    • The build event, the competitor’s second visit to the event site, takes place on that Saturday or Sunday – scheduled as determined by each college. A weekday or evening event is their option.
    • The competition and the show begins – 4 to 6 techs at a time compete against each other, assembling the parts and attaching all the fasteners to standard practices. Between these times groups of 4 or 6 is when the opportunity for the college to promote itself with videos and short speeches.
    • Although the competitors square off against each other, this final round is a speed competition and is timed against the clock. One winner would be announced for this inaugural year but in the future there could be pairs and teams as well.
    • This is also the spectator portion of the competition – family, friends, interested students and others are welcome and invited to attend.

We request the local technicians to attend so they too would compete in the final Build component on the Saturday or Sunday Final (creating a local hero and mentor possibly. If they are working away from where the tournament is and are traveling to the tournament site for weekend, they could register and fab early on the Saturday and Build with everyone else for the Finals. Although it would be nice to have a local technician returning to compete, any extra arrangements are at the discretion of the college.

Tools

Each competitor is requested to bring their own tools required to perform the tasks outlined above and specified in the promotional material. ATG may provide a minimum tool list; A very basic list of tools for the fundamental work, however the tech can bring other tools as they see fit that may expedite their work. Do note that there will also be a list of tools that may not be used as not everyone has them and they are too advantageous QD drill bits, layout fans, rivet squeezers to name a few.

Judging

The competition is based on Two Parts of the Tournament: the Fabrication session and the Build session – so two separate inspection sessions will take place where the parts assemblies will be judged based on standard practices quality of work and by time to complete the project.

After the Fabrication and ensuing inspection component the parts will be locked up at the college or school until Tournament day. On tournament day each set of parts get staged to the tech at show time for the final competition.  

The National Competition

The National Competition Finals, the same three step format will be used. In this case, for the Finals, we will know who each of the winning competitors from each location are. The fabrication and preparation will be done the first day and the build competition will take place the scheduled day or evening – a competitive event format in an open to the public venue.