Tidewater Tech Blog

Train “Hands-on,” Volunteer “Hands-on”: Serving Our Community During National Volunteer Week

The school groups of Aviation Institute of Maintenance, Centura Colleges and Tidewater Tech have reached out to their community and volunteered their time for a number of organizations.  The staff at these institutions have chosen to serve their communities by volunteering their time, talent and support to causes that are meaningful to their communities. Here are just a few examples where are campuses have provided inspiration and hope to their community.

Tidewater Tech Staff and Students Volunteer at Local Church to Serve Lunch to Community

Tidewater Tech staff and students volunteered locally with Norfolk’s Christian Fellowship Church on Tuesday, April 17th from 12-2pm during their lunchtime fellowship. Tidewater Tech volunteers worked together in providing lunch to serve the church, veterans, civilians, and homeless members of our local Norfolk community. Additionally, resources were also provided for those seeking help with housing or financial hardships. Christian Fellowship’s purpose is to provide an intimate environment of learning, fellowship, support, accountability and community outreach. Christian Fellowship educates and gives back to the community through seeking volunteers for, in addition to offering, education advancement, IT, kid’s kingdom, finance team and literacy, regular food service, building and grounds, marketing, office, and administrative support, music and singing, Christian education, transportation resources, nursing, and other special events. This being said, Tidewater tech was delighted to be able to offer lunch and resources, and to overall play role in aiding such a great organization. The experience of serving others, knowing the increasing amount of people facing hunger, left a truly powerful and uplifting impact for participants in seeing the appreciation of those served.

Centura Columbia Lends Helping Hands in Support of Flood Victims

On Friday, April 20, 2018, Centura College Columbia partnered with St. Bernard’s Place to assist a homeowner reclaim his residence after the devastating effects of flooding. St. Bernard’s Place is a national nonprofit organization focused on helping citizens of an affected area restore their lives after a natural disaster. Parts of South Carolina were hit hard in 2015 by Hurricane Joaquin, resulting in catastrophic flooding that left scores of citizens displaced. Many people are still rebuilding some two years later.

A team of ten from the Columbia campus, consisting of staff and students, arrived at the location and got an assessment of the resident’s needs. The cohort was broken into groups and assignments were given. Some helped strip paint from baseboards and door trim, others applied fresh paint to other parts of the home, while the remaining manned table saws and sanders to repair water damaged woodwork. The students represented our Building Maintenance and Repair (BMR), Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC) and Medical Assisting programs.

In all, the team worked on site from 8:30 am-12 noon and assisted in the ongoing progress toward completing the restoration. The campus has pledged its support in future activities and looks forward to serving the Midlands community at large.

AIM Indianapolis Joins Forces with Local Elementary School to Provide Bikes to Children

The Indianapolis campus of Aviation Institute of Maintenance is on a mission.  The goal: to provide bikes to the children of a local elementary school.  See AIM Indianapolis’s plans in an excerpt from a letter drafted by its Campus Executive Director, Andy Duncan.

“I can still remember my first “big boy” bike.  No more training wheels for this guy.  This new bike looked like a motorcycle with big orange fenders, long black seat, silver frame (complete with motor cycle decal), and knobby tires.  I can remember the initial ride down the street into the ditch and abrupt stop when I hit the concrete wall at the end of ditch.  The memory is firmly planted in my head of this event from over forty years ago.  If you are like me you remember your first bike or first “big boy or girl” bike and it brings a smile to your face.  For lots of kids they will never know that felling.  It is simply beyond the reality of the life they live for their family to afford such a luxury. 

We at Aviation Institute of Maintenance want to do something about this.  The AIM Indianapolis campus is on a mission to help recreate the feeling I and so many others have of getting a new bike.   We have partnered with McClelland Elementary school to help this dream become a reality. 

McClelland Elementary school has over 1000 students and due to the socioeconomic condition of a large portion of the students all students qualify for free breakfast and lunch.  McClelland is home to a fairly significant homeless population of students as well.  We, AIM, found our place to help bring some smiles simply by providing bikes.  Now that the partnership has been set we have to get the word out as to what we are doing. 

We have reached out to our partners in Aviation, friends & family, and other businesses to help with donating gift cards toward this effort.  The students and faculty of AIM have graciously volunteered their time to assemble the bikes as they arrive.  McClelland is choosing the criteria for the students that will receive the bikes and on May 25th we will head over to the school bikes in hand for delivery day. 

As I write this 28 bikes and helmets have been ordered, 18 assembled, and ten more in route to us.  We still have a couple weeks to collect a few more and as of right now several others are promised to us.  We are looking forward to seeing the children when they receive their bikes.  I know what having a bike meant to me as a child and I know that events like this show the community what Aviation Institute of Maintenance is all about.  We train mechanics.  We help people have a better future in their new career and we give bikes to kids who need them.  That is who we are and that is what we do.  I like the sound of that.”

These are just a few shining examples of students and staff at AIM, Centura College, and Tidewater Tech personify the mission of our brands to truly connect communities and careers.

Other instances of our campuses doing their part to help out their communities include:

  • AIM Atlanta teaming up with Greater Gwinnett Wetlands and the Gwinnett County Department of Water Resources to clean up Bromolow Creek and surrounding wetlands.
  • AIM Irving collecting food for the North Texas Food Bank.
  • AIM Houston lending a helping hand and meeting with residents and business owners at annual Hobby Fest.
  • AIM Las Vegas partnering with Ronald McDonald Charity House and baking cookies for a family staying there.
  • AIM Mannasass welcoming the Manasass City Boys and Girls Club to their campus for a fun-filled day.
  • AIM Oakland holding a food drive for those in need in the community.
  • Centura Chesapeake holding a community yard and craft sale, with proceeding benefiting the Samaritan House.
  • Centura Norfolk medical assisting students providing wellness checks for members at the KROC center.

Be sure to check our blogs and follow us on Facebook for updates on these and more stories of community outreach.

Teach the Teacher: ‘At the Cross Roads’ Community Education Conference Recap

Written by Drew Schnaath, Jul DeGeus and Esperanza Poquiz

Faculty and staff from The Aviation Institute of Maintenance, Centura College, and Tidewater Tech met with colleagues and industry specialists to enrich themselves, their campuses, and become better community leaders and more effective educators. On March 14th, leadership and instructors converged in Falls Church, VA to attend the annual Education Conference.

Left to right: Vice President Joel English, Damon Cook, Vice President Mike Busjahn and Nate Wade.

“This year’s theme centered around the intersection of education and community, how our schools work together with their respective communities,” said Dr. Mary Urbanski. “We believe in cultivating our school families, the greater communities surrounding our schools, and our faculty.” These relationships foster collaboration, integrity, and innovation, which benefits students, employers and the communities involved:

Centura Columbia hosted a three part Rock that Interview series of events, leading up to their Career Fair. The sessions educated those who attended on the following subjects: Writing your cover letter, creating your resume, collecting references and building your portfolio.

AIM Atlanta, AIM Chesapeake and AIM Manassas ‘drifted’ from aviation maintenance to automotive, as each campus hosted a Car Show & Open House. Automotive enthusiast learned a thing or two touring the hangars, while Aviation Maintenance Technicians (AMTs) admired the maintenance and upgrades of the vehicles that cruised onto the campus.

In September, members of the Hampton Roads campus branches partook in the organization and volunteering of the Safe House Half Marathon and 5k. 100% of the proceeds of this race went towards building a “safe house”- a haven for orphans that are at risk of being sold into sex slavery.

Centura Norfolk partnered with the City of Norfolk’s Fire-Rescue Department to develop an academic preparation training program for new recruits of the Fire-Rescue Academy. This free of charge program aims to help refresh the basic knowledge a participant will need to be successful in the Fire-Rescue Academy, as well as provides additional tutoring to ensure each recruit has the tools they need to succeed.

Tidewater Tech connected with the community’s strong military presence by holding a car wash and yard sale to benefit the crew members of the USS Eisenhower. Chief Petty Officer selectees from the vessel worked alongside Tidewater Teach staff members to make sure that every car that came for a wash was in ship shape!

For Christmas, AIM Indianapolis decked the halls with charity organizations, Bearded Villains and Bad Apple Offroad, to collect gifts for Toys for Tots. The holiday event gave families the chance to come to the campus and enjoy food, music and fun, while raising donations for a great cause.

Conference attendees heard from several well-known speakers, including Dr. Michael E. Wooten from the Department of Education, Cindy Bridges Milford, Enterprise Digital Specialist at Cengage and Dale Dworak, a 25-year industry veteran in business technology solutions. Campus educators were also able to learn from text book publishers such as Cengage, McGraw Hill Education, Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Pearson and F.A. Davis Company. Each speaker offered valuable insight into their experiences in education, business, leadership, management, and even the technology that powers these institutions and ideas.

In addition to the veritable wealth of information, our faculty had the chance to meet and network with colleagues from our other brands and campuses. Jon Cason explained “Our goal is to foster community, both inside and outside our organization. Collaboration is important for our schools as they continue to grow.”


Welding Fumes: Tips on Staying Safe

By Esperanza Poquiz

It is essential for welders to follow the proper safety precautions when it comes to handling dangerous welding fumes and gases. Here are a few tips on how to stay safe when you are fusion or pressure welding:

  • OSHA’s Hazard Communication Standard requires your employer to provide information and proper training on the hazardous materials that are in your workspace. Understanding the dangers that come with the various materials you work with can help you determine which compounds are harmful when you are overexposed to them. Product labels inform you of safety precautions, warnings and any special procedures to follow. Always read the labels!


  • Position yourself so that you are not breathing in fumes by staying upwind. The greatest concentration of fumes are in the fume plume. Keep your head out of this space. Do not weld in small confined spaces that have little to no ventilation.


  • An adequate ventilation system located within the room reduces gas and fume buildup. Natural, mechanical or local ventilation partnered with fixed or moveable exhaust hoods aid in extracting pollution from your work space. To achieve maximum results, keep fume extractor guns and vacuum nozzles close to the plume source. If you feel that there is not enough ventilation, a NIOSH approved respirator may be needed.


  • Contact your physician to learn what symptoms come from overexposure to gases and discuss actions to take if you’re experiencing them. Long term exposure to fumes may result in health complications. Over exposure to gases leads to suffocation and become a serious asphyxiation hazard. (1)

The next time you decide to weld, whether at home or on the job, be sure to keep these tips in mind to ensure that you stay safe!


“Controlling Hazardous Fume and Gases during Welding.” Occupational Safety and Health Administration, March 2013.


Student Services: Helping You Through Your College Journey

By Esperanza Poquiz

Student assistance and services are an important resource to know about when attending college. The staff is there to help make sure all aspects of schooling are managed. There are different branches to address specific needs, and below you can find information on the departments that help maintain order on campus:

  • Librarian/ Learning Resource Center Assistant – Librarians and Learning Resource Center Assistants provide you with the proper tools, books and reference materials you need to help with your assignments and studying. This also can include tutoring services for when you are in need of extra support.


  • Bursar – The Bursar Department is responsible for some of the financial aspects of a school. They assist with billing, monitoring account balances and collecting balances due.


  • Veteran Services– Veterans Services helps veterans adjust in the transition from military life to civilian life. The department introduces veterans to benefits they have earned from their service to the country.


  • Registrar – This department keeps track of all your student records and class enrollments. They are your go-to person to help you find any files, such as attendance records, grades and transfer/transcript information.


  • Financial Aid – The Financial Aid Department provides you with information on what aid options you are eligible for. They can also offer suggestions for grant or scholarship opportunities.


  • Career Services – If you are about to graduate, or have already graduated, the Career Services Department can assist in the search for a job. They perform mock interviews, help write resumes and coach you on interview attire and demeanor. Career Services also can arrange opportunities for you to meet with employers face to face at the campus.


  • Student Services Coordinator – A Student Services Coordinator has established relationships in the community that you may use to your benefit. Through their connections, they can help you look for things like housing, transportation and daycare, all while you’re attending school. They are also in charge of the campus’s Office of Disability Services, so if you have questions about academic accommodations, you can speak with them.

This is just a glimpse of what college service departments can help you with. The next time you have a specific question, use this information to help guide you to the correct department!

Loan, Grant or Scholarship: What is the Best Financial Aid for Your Trade School Training?

By Jul DeGeus

Furthering your education by going to a trade school is a quick way to invest in your future and advance your career. While going back to school can be costly, there are different types of resources available to help you get the training you need to be competitive in today’s job market:


The most common option for paying for tuition is a student loan. This loan is a lump sum of money that is to be used for educational spending and must be paid back, often with interest. There are different types of loans that you can apply for, like federal, state or private loans, but regardless of what type of loan you chose, you must understand the requirements of the loan contract. Come up with a list of questions to ask your loan provider so that there aren’t any surprises when it comes to paying back your debt.


A scholarship is an amount of money that you “win” for your education. From essay writing to art projects, there are many different types of scholarships that you can apply for. Scholarship money awarded to you does not have to be repaid, however, there is usually an obligation associated with it, like maintaining a certain grade point average or participating in an internship. It’s important that you understand how you can use the money you are requesting and know the terms to which you are agreeing to when you apply for each scholarship. There’s no limit as to how many scholarships you can apply for (and there are billions out there), but keep in mind that they are competitive. Make sure your submission is unique from the rest.


Grants are almost identical to scholarships except that there is less overall funding and, if awarded a grant, the amount is based on the results of your Free Application for Federal Student Aid; no chance to win with an essay or art piece. Most grant awards are need-based aid, in other words, for those with low income. Like scholarships, grants do not need to be paid back, but with a high demand of grant requests and a lower amount of funding than scholarships, money can run out fast. Fill out your FAFSA as soon as possible for a higher chance of receiving a grant.

Get into Gear: Career Opportunities for Automotive Technicians

By: Esperanza Poquiz

Choosing to work in the automotive technician field will provide you with ample opportunities when it comes to getting your career started. After all, vehicles -whether it’s your own, a friend’s or public transportation- are an essential in getting you from point A to point B.  And if you own a vehicle the maintenance and repair of your automobile is one of your utmost priorities to staying safe and getting you to the places you need to go in a timely manner.

Automotive technicians identify and inspect vehicles with special tools and equipment. After finding and assessing the problem, mechanics take action to correct the vehicle. Once fixed, they run tests to confirm that the vehicle it is operating smoothly and properly. Technicians run regular maintenance, inspections and repairs on a day to day basis. Their duties may include: changing oil, rotating tires, performing a state inspection, checking the vehicle’s fluid levels and sensors, or fixing any problems the vehicle may have.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the employment of automotive technicians and mechanics is expected to rise 5% from the years of 2014-2024. Jobs for automotive technicians and mechanics are escalating due to the number of vehicles increasing and becoming more relied on, causing career opportunities for entry-level technicians to increase as well.

You have the chance at working at dealerships as well as at an independent repair shop. Employment opportunities include:

  • Auto technician
  • Service writer or service manager
  • Parts counter clerk
  • Outside salesman
  • Automotive wholesaler
  • Technical representative
  • Technical editor
  • Owner of a repair facility

If learning about automotive technicians has sparked your interest, Tidewater Tech has a program for you: Automotive Technician Program.

Keeping Your Computer Safe: Internet Security Education

Having a computer, or access to one, is very common in this day and age. Most households have either a desktop, laptop, tablet or smart phone for each member of their family. But because of the familiarity, many people do not realize the risks that a computer presents.

Computers are storage houses for information. Banking, work and even personal information is stored in program files. If someone had access to that information, your identity and credit could be at risk. And if that isn’t enough, your computer could be hacked to run background programs that can be used to attack other computers without you even knowing.

To keep your computer and data safe, it’s a good idea to have some sort of internet security education. This basic education can guide you to help keep your computer safe from harm. Here are a few steps to keeping yourself safe:


Your firewall is your first line of defense against hackers and identity theft. It’s a security device in your network, usually run through your router, modem or both, that monitors ingoing and outgoing traffic to your computer. When an unauthorized traffic signal comes in, the firewall automatically blocks it.

Virus Scans

Virus scans are your second barrier. These are programs that are downloaded onto your computer to that look for programs that can harm your computer. Some are subscription services and some are free. Virus scans should be updated at least once a week and your entire computer should be scanned regularly.


Passwords protect against data theft. You should have a different password for each and every site or program that you use. This is a very important step in keeping your data safe because if you use the same password for several sites and someone steals your password, the hacker will then have access to any site that login is used.

Common Sense

Lastly, use common sense when surfing the internet. Do not click on pop-ups that appear on the screen. Even when you click “X” on a pop-up, you could still activate a virus program. Right click from your taskbar to close out those items. If you get an email or instant message from a friend or family member that seems suspicious, send them a message to see if they sent it on purpose. Do not share private information or passwords in chats or without confirming the source.

HVAC: Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning

By Jul DeGeus

It’s summertime; a blistering 101 degrees outside, with humidity so stifling you can barely catch your breath. However, you are cool as a cucumber- sprawled out on the couch, watching Stranger Things in preparation of the season two release date, all thanks to your hardworking air conditioning unit. Midway through your viewing, you decide to change into shorts, as the discomforting heat of your pajama pants is distracting your ability to fully submerge into the storyline.

You make your way upstairs and it hits you; a stagnant wall of heat, so sweltering you debate whether your body can muster the energy to make it to the thermostat to fix this terrible situation.  Channeling your inner Eleven, you brave your way to the AC control unit just to find that, despite multiple attempts, your AC unit has died, putting an unexpected end to your series splurging marathon.

Vowing never to let a broken ac unit interrupt your plans again, you realize your life’s mission: Become a Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning (HVAC) Technician to save the population from overheating or freezing to death.

But what exactly do these every-day HVAC heroes do and how does one join the ranks of these noble technicians?

Well, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, HVAC technicians preform the following tasks:

  • Set up and/or fix AC units
  • Preform regular inspections and maintenance
  • Test parts of the unit to determine the source of the issue
  • Once identified, repair or replace damaged components
  • Survey HVAC systems and suggest cost and energy effective changes
  • Assemble HVAC systems, including electrical wiring, air ducts, and other necessary parts.

And, just as Batman taught Robin, Ironman mentored Spiderman and Antiope educated Wonder Woman, all technicians must get the training they need before taking on the world of HVAC. To start that training, check out Tidewater Tech’s Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning diploma program, now!

Tune-up Your Training for Your Next Interview

By Esperanza Poquiz; Edited by Jul DeGeus

Going into an interview can be stressful for some of us; others may find it easy. Being well-prepared can help calm your nerves before going into the interview process. Whether you find it easy or hard, these tips could help you feel more confident when walking through the door.

Initial Reactions

A survey showed that 660 out of 2,000 hiring managers knew within 90 seconds of meeting an applicant whether or not they would hire the interviewee. To ensure that you are giving off a great first impression, be mindful of your appearance and dress appropriately. Pick colors that are neutral; navy blue, white, black or gray. Upon first meeting, smile and give your employer a firm hand shake. You should keep an upbeat, positive tone throughout the exchange. Communication is key; enunciate, speak with proper grammar and don’t use profanity or bring up inappropriate topics.

 Believe in Yourself

Radiating confidence lets your employer see that you know what you want and take initiative to get it. During the interview don’t mumble, play with your hair, touch your face or cross your arms over your chest. When speaking, make eye contact and keep hand gestures to a minimum. Let your personality shine by showing warmth and enthusiasm.

Do Some Research

            Before going to your interview, research the company for general information. What is the company’s mission statement and what do they stand for? Is this a mission you support and are passionate about? Have the specific position you applied for in mind and be ready to talk about the requirements and responsibilities in the job description. Always have at least three relevant questions prepared to ask about the company or position; this stresses your interest to obtain the position.

Final Suggestions

Stay away from saying unfavorable comments about previous employers and peers; your opinion could project negativity. Regardless of the reason, have a generic answer on why you left your last job. During the initial interview, don’t focus too much on pay or schedule. If the company is interested in you, you will have the opportunity to negotiate that in following conversations. When in doubt ask family, friends or mentors to perform a mock interview to prepare.

Keep these tips on the forefront of your mind for the most productive interviews.

The Test of Tools: Auto Edition

By Eric Soule and Jul DeGeus

Automotive students- It’s time to test your knowledge! Identify the names of the following tools and click the picture to see if you got them right:


Belt Tension Gauge or Tire Inflator Gauge?

Eric Soule Click to Flip
It’s a “belt tension gauge” and it measures the amount of tension put on belts.

Boot Pliers or Spark Plug Pliers

Eric Soule Click to Flip
Those are “boot pliers” and they are used to removes spark plug wire boots.

Dial Indicator or Cylinder Compression Tester

Click to Flip
The “dial indicator” is a precision measuring tool for processes such as brake alignment.

Drum Micrometer or Digital Drum Caliper

Eric Soule Click to Flip
A “drum micrometer” is used to measure the inside diameter of a break drum.

Video Scope or Gas Leak Detector

Eric Soule Click to Flip
The “gas leak detector” monitors if there is a gas leak, such as R134A refrigerant.

Radiator Pressure Tester or Harmonic Balancer Puller

Eric Soule Click to Flip
“Harmonic balancer pullers” are used to remove the engine’s vibration reducer or the harmonic balancer.

Metric Crows Foot Tool or Hydraulic Flaring Tool

Eric Soule Click to Flip
It is a “hydraulic flaring tool” set that fabricates flaring, double flare, and bubble for fuel and brake lines.

Infrared Thermometer or Heat Gun

Eric Soule Click to Flip
This “infrared thermometer” is used to measure thermal radiation from a distance.

Circlip Wrench or Oil Filter Wrench

Eric Soule Click to Flip
It’s an “oil filter wrench” that can remove various size of oil filters.

Serpentine Belt Tool or Rethreading Tool

Eric Soule Click to Flip
A “serpentine belt tool” is used to push or pull the tensioner pulley to release tension on serpentine belts.

Swivel Type Sockets or Cylinder Piston Ring Set

Eric Soule Click to Flip
“Swivel type sockets” have a head that swivels to reach just the perfect angle.

Universal Brake Caliper Tool or Bearing Adapter Kit

Eric Soule Click to Flip
It’s a “universal brake caliper tool,” which depresses screw type calipers.

Rotary Tool or Valve Core Remover

Eric Soule Click to Flip
A “valve core remover” extracts valve cores in R134A systems without loss of refrigerant.