LINCOLN, NEB. — Duncan Aviation is pleased to announce that four Project SEARCH interns at its Battle Creek, Michigan, facility received their high school diplomas or certificates of completion in June. Project SEARCH is an international program started in Cincinnati, Ohio, designed to help students with cognitive impairments, learning disabilities, and autism work a variety of internships at a host company in order to develop skills and habits that will ultimately help them find competitive employment.
In Lincoln, Nebraska, the Duncan Aviation facility hosted 10 18- to 21-year-old young men and women through the Lincoln Public School’s VOICE program. VOICE -- Vocational Opportunity In Community Experience -- pairs students with physical and/or cognitive impairments or learning disabilities with organizations in the Lincoln community to help them gain job skills and develop communication skills so they can live independently.
“My experience with working with the VOICE students was a life changer!” says Fleet Support Team Member Karyn Snow in Lincoln’s Interior Critical Resource Team. “Getting to know each student’s personality was an absolute joy. I learned so much about myself through the students. Many of them touched my heart, and I’m a more patient, caring person because of this experience. I am looking forward to the students coming back this fall.”
For the second year in a row, Duncan Aviation’s Battle Creek facility hosted students – this year, six young men from high schools in Calhoun County school districts in and around Battle Creek. The students must show up for work on time each day, and their days consist of a half day of work and a half day of classroom training.
On-site teacher, Sheila Ritsema, from Project SEARCH, uses their 3 ½-hours of classroom time each day to work on skills the students will need in their future careers: team building, workplace safety, health and wellness, technology (learning to send email, preparing resumes, and communicating with co-workers at Duncan Aviation and elsewhere), self-advocacy, financial literacy, and maintaining employment.
Every day, the students reported to their respective team leaders at Duncan Aviation to work three, 10-week internships, that helped them develop skills and find out what jobs they’re interested in pursuing. At Duncan Aviation in Battle Creek, the Project SEARCH students worked in a variety of offices, shops and departments, including Paint, Facilities, Professional Development, Avionics, Environmental Services, Warehouse, Interior Completions, Interior Finish, Airframe, FBO Line Services, Customer Service, and in the Burn Lab.
In Lincoln, the VOICE students divided their time among four departments: Facilities, Interior, Shipping & Receiving, and Avionics. Working in the Interior Shop, students helped perform shop audits (checked for expired products), straightened up the Cabinet Shop (dusted and vacumed metal shavings and sawdust), maintained equipment (polished the surface of saws, repapered the walls of the glue-spray booth) and helped with office tasks (scanned documents).
“One group of students developed a checklist of daily, recurring duties,” says Snow, “and subsequent groups used this checklist every day to get through the tasks. They enjoyed the routine of the tasks on the list, but they loved it when we had special projects for them to do, too. They were just a joy because they enthusiastically tackled all of the tasks asked of them.”
Although the students in Battle Creek walked through the graduation ceremony with their fellow high-school classmates a year ago, they deferred receiving their own diplomas until after they’d completed this additional year of classroom training and internships.
“The Duncan Aviation team has enjoyed another successful year of Project SEARCH,” says Executive Vice President & Chief Operating Officer Tom Burt. “We always learn a lot from the interns as they learn from us and become part of our team. Congratulations to each of the graduates!”
In a ceremony in June 2017, the interns received their actual diplomas or certificates, and two of them have already begun their new jobs. One young man is employed at a foundry, doing half-time janitorial and maintenance. Preventative maintenance was one of the rotations he served at Duncan Aviation, and he’s applying the skills he learned through his internship at his new job.
Another young man, who has an interest in mechanics, is working as a lube technician at a Battle Creek car dealership. During his tenure at Duncan Aviation, he performed quality checks on aircraft and was a member of the fuel team. He feels his new job is a perfect fit for his interests and skills.
In September, seven more local Calhoun County high-school students will join the Duncan Aviation team through the Project SEARCH program and serve a variety of internships throughout the company. In Lincoln, 10 more students will begin their two quarters, learning skills that they can apply to future employment, relationships, and independent living.
Duncan Aviation is an aircraft service provider supporting the aviation needs of government and business operators and other service providers. Services include major and minor airframe inspections, engine maintenance, major retrofits for cabin and cockpit systems, full paint and interior services and preowned aircraft sales and acquisitions. Duncan Aviation also has international aircraft components solutions experts available 24/7/365 at +1 402.475.4125 who can handle any aircraft system problem with immediate exchanges, rotables, loaners or avionics/instrument/accessory repairs and overhauls. Complete service facilities are located in Lincoln, Neb., and Battle Creek, Mich. Additional locations include Provo, Utah, and more than 20 other facilities strategically located throughout the United States to provide customers with local support and the quickest response to avionics, engine and airframe Aircraft On Ground (AOG) situations.
For more information about any of Duncan Aviation’s services, call +1 402.475.2611 or visit www.DuncanAviation.aero