Alabama Aviation College student Aaron Phillips has been chosen to receive the 2023 James Rardon Aviation Maintenance Technician (AMT) Student of the Year Award.
This prestigious award, presented by the Aviation Technician Education Council (ATEC) in collaboration with JSfirm.com and the Northrop Rice Foundation, “recognizes the outstanding achievement of an Aviation Maintenance Technician student. The achievement must be demonstrated through academics as well as through involvement that makes a direct impact on the students associates, school and/or community,” according to ATEC’s website.
Phillips was nominated for the award by AAC Campus Director Stan Smith. Nominees for the award must be full-time AMT students at an ATEC member school. AAC is one of 120 Aviation Maintenance colleges that are members of the organization. The award winner is chosen by a selection committee based on a set criterion that includes leadership/motivation, academics, school/community and recommendations from others.
“As the director, I had heard instructors talking about what a great student Aaron Phillips was, his high comprehensive exam test scores and the extra things he does on campus to include repairing college equipment and tutoring other students for free,” Smith said, noting that Phillips received a 98 and 100 on the Airframe Comp, the highest in the College’s record books. “Based on those conversations and the interaction I had with Aaron, I decided to nominate him for the Aviation Technical Education Council (ATEC) Student of the Year Award.”
Nominators are required to include two additional letters of recommendation for the nominee. Smith said he received five additional letters when he requested them from AAC faculty and staff.
“The magnitude of this award cannot be overstated since 120 aviation maintenance colleges are members of ATEC,” Smith said. “Not only is Aaron Phillips our best student, but he was selected as the best in the nation.
“As reassurance that we made the right choice, when I called Aaron to let him know he won the award, he was tutoring students at that time.”
ESCC President Danny Long noted Phillips’ hard work and his connection with his peers.
“It is great to see Aaron being recognized for not only his work in this program but also the support he provides to his fellow students,” Long said. “He’s truly deserving of this award, and we’re proud to have him represent the Alabama Aviation College at the national level.”
Phillips said he was honored to be nominated for the award and for the chance to represent the College.
“First and foremost, I would like to thank Mr. Stan Smith and everyone who vouched on my behalf for presenting me for nomination for such a prestigious award and having confidence in me for being worthy of selection,” he said. “I’m proud to have the opportunity to represent a great institution such as the Alabama Aviation College, and I’m humbled by the respect for my efforts everyone has shown me on this journey.”
He thanked instructor Patrick Williams for his encouragement and mentorship during his time in the program. He also especially thanked fellow students, Blake James and Callie Sparks, for their help and support, stating that “study sessions with the two of them is what inspired me to start helping others.”
Phillips said a family member who works as an aviation mechanic inspired him to join the aviation maintenance program, also known as the Airframe & Powerplant (A&P) program. He is expected to complete the program this May. After completing the program, he said plans to take his training into the aviation maintenance career field. He said he also hopes to continue to give back in some way “by inspiring in as many others the dedication towards success [the program] has instilled in me.”
Phillips will be formally recognized during the ATEC’s annual conference in Chicago at the end of March.