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Donations help Rock Valley College aircraft maintenance program stay up to date

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In the world of aviation, technology changes pretty quickly, making it a challenge for those whose job is to train future mechanics.

“There’s a real fight going on for our technicians coming out of this program,” said Mark Adolphson, who is the co-chair of Rock Valley College’s Aviation Maintenance program.

That fight is a good thing for his students. The fight is between airplane maintenance companies looking for good aviation mechanics, the kind turned out by the program.

“There’s such a shortage of aircraft technicians today, in this country, that all the employers — not only locally, but all the people at O’Hare, all the regional airlines. They are calling us up and wanting to come out and actively recruit our students.”

To make sure its students are qualified, RVC needs to keep the training up to date with the rapidly changing technology.

“The newer the airplanes are, the more wiring they have inside of them, the more electrically sophisticated the aircraft are today,” Adolphson said. “They’re doing more with electricity on airplanes than they ever have before.”

That wiring can be measured in feet, sometimes in miles. That’s where Tri-Star Machine comes in. It uses a laser to print labels directly onto the wires.

“Oftentimes, these wires are routed in a bundle with a hundred other wires, and so if you’re troubleshooting and trying to do maintenance work on the aircraft, finding that one wire that’s relating to the system that you’re working on can be a challenge,” Adolphson said.

Until recently, Rock Valley didn’t have the expensive piece of equipment.

“We go through the construction of wiring harness in some of our coursework, and we did not have the equipment to mark the wires,” Todd Morgan, co-chair of RVC Aviation Maintenance. “This allows us to do that.”

A Machesney Park business, Service Components Incorporated, donated the $40,000 machine last week. The company makes wire harnesses and other electrical related components and recently upgraded its equipment. Such gifts are vital to the Rock Valley program.

“Obviously, we’re not going to go out and purchase a new airplane or something like that,” Morgan said. “So, we rely on do maintenance work on the aircraft, finding one wire that’s relating to the system that you’re working on can be a challenge.”

“Aircraft parts and aircraft themselves are truly expensive, and for a state-funded community college, that can be a bit of a challenge to go out and acquire those things,” Adolphson said. “All of our aircraft are old and at some point we’ve got to replace it with somewhat newer material or newer equipment.”

Service Components Incorporated’s general manager says the company believes supporting the community with donations like this not only helps the business grow, but is also good for the people who live and work in the Rockford region.

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