Aviation Student Advances to National SkillsUSA Competition

Published 02.15.2008

Student News

Neil F. Baughman solders wires onto a connector while judge Brett A. Reasner scores a previously completed project during Tuesday's SkillsUSA aviation competition at Pennsylvania College of Technology's Lumley Aviation Center in Montoursville. (Photo by Thomas D. Inman, associate professor of avionics)Pennsylvania College of Technology's aviation department held its SkillsUSA state finals this week, advancing a student Neil F. Baughman, of Hershey to national competition.

In spite of bad weather, the event took place from 4-8:30 p.m. Tuesday in the sheet-metal laboratory at the college's Lumley Aviation Center in Montoursville.

Baughman and co-finalists Yo Seop-Lee and Daniel C. Fantoni, both of Williamsport all seniors in the aviation maintenance technology bachelor's-degree major completed a variety of tasks ranging from electrical-circuit building to rivet installation. In addition, the students completed a 100-question written examination.

The competition was extremely close, according to Thomas D. Inman, associate professor of avionics, and, at the end of the evening, Baughman edged out Fantoni by one point to win the state championship. Baughman will travel to Kansas City, Mo., in June to compete nationally.

Aviation faculty prepared 10 skill tests and a written test, Inman explained. Bart Kinley, of DeGol Jet Center; Mike Caldera, of Lycoming Engines, and Brett A. Reasner, assistant dean of natural resources management (and a former member of the aviation faculty) judged the competition.

This marks the first year that Penn College aviation has participated in SkillsUSA. Fantoni, a Vermont state champion and a transfer student, spearheaded the effort to get Penn College involved. There is no aviation category at the state level in Pennsylvania, so Baughman advances to nationals on the basis of the local competition. He will be joined in Kansas City by winners of the state competition, to be held in Hershey in April.

Over the years, nearly 60 Penn College students have competed in a variety of categories in national competition.