Aaron Poidevin remembers the first time he thought he wanted to be a pilot. He was at MacDill’s Airfest. He was 8.
“I was a kid watching airplanes doing tricks in the sky – of course I wanted to do something like that,” Poidevin said. “But I didn’t know it was possible.”
Today, he holds a Bachelor of Science in Aerospace Administration from Polk State College, but the 2017 graduate had a long journey to his ultimate career.
He first received a bachelor’s degree in Environmental Science from the University of Central Florida before enrolling at Hillsborough Community College, where he became a certified paramedic. All the while, he was working for Walgreens, where he moved up the ranks from a senior pharmacy technician to a district immunization representative.
“But I still had aviation on my mind – I always have,” Poidevin said. “A friend kept telling me to look into becoming a pilot, but I thought it wasn’t that easy.”
Then he found Polk State.
“It’s public, it has a four-year degree option, it’s affordable,” Poidevin said. “Little did I know, so many more opportunities awaited me in the Aerospace Program.”
“When I tell people why Polk State is a great option, I tell them it’s the opportunities available here for real-world, hands-on experiences that open students’ eyes to so many more possibilities,” he added.
“It’s public, it has a four-year degree option, it’s affordable. Little did I know, so many more opportunities awaited me in the Aerospace Program. When I tell people why Polk State is a great option, I tell them it’s the opportunities available here for real-world, hands-on experiences that open students’ eyes to so many more possibilities.”
Poidevin not only learned how to fly planes. He also learned that in the field of aviation, career options are seemingly endless.
“I never thought I would be flying planes, let alone doing what I’m doing now in aviation,” Poidevin said. “There are so many opportunities in this industry and more will be created in the future.”
The best way to learn about all of the possibilities, he said, is to participate in internships.
With Polk State Aerospace’s educational and employment partnerships with national aviation leaders including JetBlue Airways Corporation, Express Jet Airlines Inc., and 12 local sites such as Lakeland Linder Regional Airport, Winter Haven Municipal Airport, SUN ‘n FUN, and Turin Aviation Group, there is no shortage of opportunities for real-world, hands-on experience.
When Poidevin interned at Winter Haven Municipal Airport and Lakeland Linder Regional Airport, he learned “just how crazy it is to run an airport.”
“I learned how precise all of the rules are, and how to take what I learned in the classroom and make it applicable to real world scenarios,” he said.
And his internship with Turin Aviation Group led to his current employment, which he achieved before he completed his bachelor’s degree.
“Polk State’s Aerospace Program has networked so well that it places students in a great position to get hired,” Poidevin said. “I tell students that if they have the chance to participate in an internship, the experience is priceless.”
As a member of Turin Aviation Group’s Unmanned Aircraft Systems Operations team, Poidevin flies drones and other unmanned aircraft systems. In addition to his day-to-day responsibilities in his official position, he also works with the company restoring vintage military aircraft.
Most recently, he was part of the restoration of a WWII C-47 from Keystone. It was flown into a hangar at Tampa Executive Airport, where Poidevin and three Polk State students — Samuele Cerneaz, Davide Barraco, and Andrea Daniel Franchi — worked on restoring the old aircraft.
“One of the biggest reasons why I enjoy my job so much is because I’m not stuck doing one thing,” Poidevin said. “I thought I would be flying planes – that’s it. But there are so many other options that students should know about.”
Now, he’s working on a project with Turin Aviation Group to build Polk State three custom drones with a slew of different sensors to be used in a variety of learning scenarios.
“One more thing I tell students is to maintain the relationships they build at Polk State,” Poidevin said. “The school does a great job at creating opportunities for its students, even after graduation.”