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GNTC graduate hired by SpaceX to maintain rocket engines

Just back from Cape Canaveral, Fla., where he will soon be working as an Integration Technician for SpaceX, Georgia Northwestern Technical College graduate Palmer Moye dropped in on the GNTC Aviation Training Center for one last visit.

Just back from Cape Canaveral, Fla., where he will soon be working as an Integration Technician for SpaceX, Georgia Northwestern Technical College graduate Palmer Moye dropped in on the GNTC Aviation Training Center for one last visit.

Through the GNTC Aviation Maintenance Technology program, Moye studied a combined airframe and power plant curriculum, mandated by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). According to Jon Byrd, program director and instructor of Aviation Maintenance Technology, the technical skills students like Moye learn at GNTC can be applied across the aerospace field.

“It is no surprise to us at all that Palmer was hired by SpaceX,” said Byrd. “He is extremely smart and more than capable of great things in the aviation maintenance industry. We are very proud of him and that he chose GNTC for his aviation maintenance training.”

During his final interview, Moye worked on a SpaceX Merlin engine. These engines power the Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy rockets. The Falcon Heavy rocket was the craft SpaceX launched on Feb. 6, 2018, to transport a cherry-red Tesla Roadster and its mannequin driver, Starman, into space.

“The work I did at GNTC made working on the rocket engine a piece of cake,” said Moye. “Engines amaze me. They are so big and powerful, but they still need to be handled with care.”

Moye said he was encouraged through the hiring process by Matt Corvey, his first semester Aviation Maintenance Technology instructor at GNTC. Corvey agreed to be a reference on Moye’s application, but said the 20-year-old got in on his own merits.

“Palmer is a dreamer,” he said. “I could tell he had a slightly different interest than the other students.”

Moye said the hiring process took around three weeks from start to finish. In the meantime, he has found an apartment in Cape Canaveral that is a 10-minute drive to work and a five-minute walk to the beach. Moye says he will be working third shift, which isn’t an issue for him.

“This is my dream job,” he said. “The best way to step into the aerospace field is through SpaceX.”

At the end of the 2020 summer semester, Moye and his classmates graduated the program after a challenging spring semester. In order to complete the program and earn the FAA certifications, students must be in class at GNTC’s Aviation Training Center Monday through Thursday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

When the COVID-19 pandemic caused nationwide shut downs, GNTC delayed its classes until it was safe for students to come back on campus. When Aviation Maintenance Technology students returned, they stayed an extra hour every day to make up for the classroom and lab hours missed in order to meet the FAA requirements to receive certification.

“This year has been crunch time for sure,” he said. “We have been here nearly every day working to finish the program.”

A graduate of Rome High School, Moye had the opportunity to live at home while he was in college. Living at home helped him focus on his education as well as save money. Moye said telling his family the news about SpaceX was a big moment and it is something he will never forget.

“They were more than ecstatic,” he said. “There were a lot of happy tears.”

Moye will be the second GNTC graduate hired by SpaceX in the past year. GNTC graduate Dusty Powell began work as a Maintenance Technician in December 2019 at the company’s headquarters in Hawthorne, California. Powell holds two associate degrees from GNTC, Instrumentation and Controls Technician and Industrial Systems Technology. Along with his two degrees, Powell also holds a level two Certified Control Systems Technician (CCST) from The International Society of Automation.

The Aviation Maintenance Technology (AVMT) program prepares graduates for employment in repairing and maintaining aircraft. The combined airframe and power plant curriculum, mandated by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), is designed to provide students with the technical knowledge and skills required to troubleshoot and repair aircraft components and systems. Satisfactory completion of all AVMT program courses entitles students to participate in FAA airframe and power plant examinations and certifications.

Georgia Northwestern Technical College’s (GNTC) Fall Commencement Ceremony will be held in Dalton at the Whitfield Murray Campus as a drive-thru ceremony on Thursday, Dec. 3, at 5 p.m. Fall semester GNTC graduates from all six campuses are invited to attend the ceremony.

SpaceX designs, manufactures and launches advanced rockets and spacecraft. The company was founded in 2002 to revolutionize space technology. The company has gained worldwide attention for a series of historic milestones. It is the only private company capable of returning a spacecraft from low Earth orbit, which it first accomplished in 2010. The company made history again in 2012 when its Dragon spacecraft became the first commercial spacecraft to deliver cargo to and from the International Space Station. SpaceX successfully achieved the historic first reflight of an orbital class rocket in 2017, and the company now regularly launches flight-proven rockets. In 2018, SpaceX began launching Falcon Heavy, the world’s most powerful operational rocket by a factor of two.

Georgia Northwestern Technical College provides quality workforce education to the citizens of Northwest Georgia. Students have the opportunity to earn an associate degree, diploma, or a certificate in business, health, industrial, or public service career paths. This past year, 12,454 people benefited from GNTC’s credit and noncredit programs. With an annual credit enrollment of 7,730 students, GNTC is the largest college in Northwest Georgia. GNTC has an additional enrollment of 4,724 people through adult education, continuing education, business and industry training, and Georgia Quick Start. For more information about GNTC, visit us at www.GNTC.edu. GNTC is a unit of the Technical College System of Georgia and an Equal Opportunity Institution.

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