As the clock ran out in the twelfth and final hour of competition, Nathaniel Levy removed his ear plugs and looked around at his opponents, quickly realizing he was about to medal in aircraft maintenance at the 2013 National Skills Competition.
“Only three of us completed the project, so I was pretty sure. I just didn’t know what place,” explains the recent NSCC Aircraft Maintenance Engineering (Mechanical) graduate.
He placed first, becoming the only person east of Montreal to take home the coveted gold medal in aircraft maintenance.
“When they called my name…it was one of the best feelings I’ve ever had in my life,” he says, adding that the medal is now hanging proudly in his bedroom.
Nathaniel’s road to gold began when he was eight.
“I’ve loved airplanes since I was a child,” he says. “I remember the first time my parents took me to the airport to watch the big jets take off and come in.” After high school, he spent a year studying jet engines, followed by a summer applying his skills at an aircraft maintenance institute in the United States. That experience stoked a desire to learn more and work on other aircraft parts, leading him to NSCC’s Aviation Institute in Dartmouth.
At NSCC, Nathaniel excelled in his program and placed first in the annual Nova Scotia Skills Competition which earned him a spot on the provincial team. He spent the next few months preparing for the national competition in Vancouver.
“I would spend lunchtime and after school working on projects my teachers gave me. And I did a lot of studying,” he says.
“He worked extremely hard,” says NSCC Aviation Instructor Todd Lintaman, who credits Nathaniel’s success to a combination of passion, dedication and an uncanny ability to focus. “The competition was really tough and there were a lot of distractions. You had hundreds of competitors and thousands of people walking around, so the key was focusing and that’s what carried him through.”
“We’re all super proud of Nate,” adds Todd. “It’s a huge deal for him and the College. It puts the Aviation Institute on the national stage.”
Nathaniel’s showing at the competition also landed him a job interview, and he hopes to be working soon on mid-size planes like the Dash 8. Although he plans to stay in the province, he’s intrigued by the challenge of working as a Mechanical Aircraft Maintenance Engineer in Canada’s North and hopes to spend a few years in one of the territories.
“It’s a bit more challenging working on small planes up there because you don’t get all the comfort and technologies that you have down here in the city.”