October 28, 2016

‘Detail Dawgs’ win top three spots in inaugural maintenance contest

by Pete Rosenbery

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- Southern Illinois University Carbondale aviation technologies students came away with an impressive performance last weekend in their inaugural maintenance competition. 

Competing against aviation industry professionals and other students, SIU Carbondale students captured the first three spots in the third annual Midwest Aviation Invitational Aviation Technician Skills competition Oct. 21 at Indian Hills Community College in Ottumwa, Iowa. The event was the first ever for the “Detail Dawgs,” a registered student organization formed in February. 

Each competitor performs eight events that test their knowledge and skills as an aircraft technician while working under a time constraint of not more than 15 minutes. Scores are based on a competitor’s actual time, and aviation technology instructors and industry professionals serve as judges. Mistakes or errors will result in penalty time added to a contestant’s score. 

There were 23 competitors in the event, with about one-third of those being industry professionals, Harry Fanning, a lecturer in aviation technologies and faculty adviser, said. 

David Clarke, a senior from Roscoe, finished first overall, winning the turbine engine component exchange event, and tying with teammates Raymond Pfaff and Cody Kleiser for first place in sheet metal repair. Pfaff, a senior from Sheridan, and Kleiser, a senior from Hampshire, finished second and third overall, respectively. Zach Eldredge, a junior from Streamwood, won the magneto timing event. Brian Stuehler, a junior from Hampshire, also competed. Team members also finished second and third in several events.

The eight events are: electrical troubleshooting, flight control rigging, fluid lines and fittings, magneto timing, safety wiring, sheet metal repair, turbine engine component exchange, and weight and balance.

The team “exceeded all my expectations with their performance,” Fanning said.

“They not only showed that SIU Carbondale is the top aviation school, but that we produce professionals ready to shine in a career field that is experiencing critical shortages.  At the completion of the competition, several of the judges approached me to compliment the team on their performance and professionalism,” Fanning said.

The team is training for the 2017 Aerospace Maintenance Competition, April 25-27, in Orlando, Fla. That event is much larger, and will feature industry professionals and international competition, Fanning said.