Just back from Cape Canaveral, Florida, 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. According to Jon Byrd, program director and instructor, 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 instructor. 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.
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 lived at home while he was in college, which helped him focus on his education and 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 is 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. He also holds a level two Certified Control Systems Technician from The International Society of Automation.