Northland Community and Technical College | A High-Flying Future for Unmanned Aircraft Systems |
Published in the March/April 2011 issue of print Search & Employ® |
Casey Bessette is a Navy veteran who attended Northland Community and Technical College (NCTC) to get his Airframe and Powerplant (A&P) certificate. After working on F-14 Tomcats for five years in places as far away as Japan, he wanted to get closer to home and earn an education that would fulfill his life’s dream. NCTC is a two-year community college serving more than 4,000 part-time and full-time students on three Minnesota campuses: Thief River Falls, East Grand Forks, and Thief River Falls Regional Airport.
“I got out of the Navy in May 2005 and enrolled in the fall semester at Northland,” he said. “I decided to go to school at Northland for a series of reasons. The obvious one was that it was close to home. Secondly, the tuition and cost of living in that area are lot cheaper than in most other places. Thirdly, Northland technical school has had the A&P program for a long time. Fourth, I knew a few people that had gone through the program who had good things to say about it. The most important thing I liked was that Northland has a ton of equipment at their facility that most other schools would be extremely envious of. When I say equipment, I am referring to a huge diversity in aircraft, support equipment, and specialty tools.”
Bessette had a lifelong dream in mind. “My goal was to get my A&P and join the real working world again,” he said. “I graduated Northland in May 2007 with my A&P, and it didn’t take me too far – geographically, that is. I decided to take my first position as an aircraft mechanic at the Fargo Jet Center in Fargo, North Dakota. I knew if I stuck around and didn’t go too far, I would get my chance as a crop duster back in my hometown. In 2008, I got my chance.”
Bessette credits both his Navy experience and his Northland education. “My education played a huge role in obtaining my current position,” he said. “When I was being considered for the job, there were two other candidates. Both of them had crop-dusting experience, but I had none. The saving factor with me was that the other two guys didn’t have an A&P and therefore couldn’t do mechanic work. The company saw me hitting two birds with one stone.”