Students often ask how I got into technology. I tell them my start came when I joined the Navy out of high school and, after testing, the Navy decided I should become an avionics technician fixing aircraft for a living. So, I raised my hand, went to boot camp, and started what would become an awesome 20-year adventure.
A year of schooling came after boot camp and then I started my first assignment at the Aircraft Intermediate Maintenance Department in Brunswick, Maine. Three years of electronics bench work proved to be way too boring for me, which coupled with the interest caused by constant aircraft activity outside our hangar, I was driven to reenlist in return for aircrew duty. That was where I really started to learn computer technologies. The year was 1978.
After more schooling I spent three years with Patrol Squadron Eight as an in-flight technician on the B version of Lockheed's P-3 Orion aircraft working on communications, navigation and varied reconnaissance equipment. After a tour there and more schooling, I went to Patrol Squadron Twenty-Four, who was flying the newer P-3C version of the Orion. The P-3C had a centralized digital data suite with a massive computer and multiple logic units that interfaced most of the avionics. I had to load the preflight diagnostic software and run tests on all the systems followed by the mission operating program. After Twenty-Four, I went to Forty-Five and with even more schooling, learned another avionic platform.
My career ended in 1994 after an instructor tour in Jacksonville, Fla. I describe to the kids how being an instructor caused my interest in education. Then, I point out how schooling in technology was never-ending and how they can expect similar experiences during their awesome adventures.
Ron Poland is a professor in the Computer Information Systems AAS program at Clinton Community College. Poland is certified in company repair and networking by the Computer Technology Industry Association (CompTIA). He is also a Cisco certified network assistant. Questions may be sent to him via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.