Flight simulation game jets student toward TSTC’s aviation maintenance program

Michael Stamper, a TSTC aviation maintenance student, wanted to become a pilot after buying a flight simulator game. (Photo Courtesy of TSTC)

ABILENE Michael Stamper’s enjoyment of a flight simulation video game led to a career decision.

“After playing the simulator on my computer, I immediately knew that is what I wanted to do,” he said of working in the aviation industry, in a news release. “There is something magical about it. It is enticing to have that bird’s-eye view from the sky.”

After learning that the cost of pilot training was too costly for him at this time, Stamper looked at other options. Research led him to Texas State Technical College’s aviation maintenance program, where is studying for Associate of Applied Science degrees in Aircraft Airframe Technology and Aircraft Powerplant Technology.

“I plan to use my degrees here to begin my pilot training,” he said. “This program has everything you need to know about the way the plane functions. I still plan to become a pilot, and earning a degree in maintenance work will be more enticing to employers after I earn my license.”

Stamper said the curriculum during the first semester was easy to grasp, but gradually concepts became more complex. He is happy to have an instructor like Andy Smith showing him the proper techniques this semester.

“Andy understands the struggles we are having with balancing family, work and school,” he said. “He has not forgotten that feeling and has been able to teach accordingly.”

Smith, who graduated from the TSTC program in 2023, is currently an adjunct instructor.

“Michael is an exceptional student who will have a long career in this industry,” Smith said in the release.

Stamper said TSTC’s instructors will prepare him for the next step in his career.

“TSTC is going to have you ready to take the (Federal Aviation Administration) exams when you complete this program,” he said. “I know I will be prepared for the tests and will be looking forward to continuing my education to become a pilot.”

The need for aircraft mechanics and service technicians in Texas was forecast to grow 16% between 2020 and 2030, according to onetonline.org. The average annual salary for a technician in the state is $67,680, the website stated.

TSTC offers Associate of Applied Science degrees and certificates of completion in both Aircraft Airframe Technology and Aircraft Powerplant Technology at its Abilene, Harlingen and Waco campuses.

For more information about TSTC, visit tstc.edu.