How this CNM Grad Transitioned from Master Automotive Technician to a Career in Aircraft Manufacturing

James Caswell was able to transfer the skills he learned as a mechanic to a successful career building airplanes for Eclipse Aerospace
February 13, 2024

CNM has always played a key role in James Caswell’s career. He originally took classes in the Automotive Technology program at TVI that helped him earn his ASE Master Technician certification. Years later, CNM helped jumpstart his career with Eclipse Aerospace, where he still works today as an aviation manufacturing technician.

“I took classes at CNM at different points in my life, and everything I learned in both the automotive and aviation programs helped me succeed in my career,” James says.

James went into aviation after he unexpectedly lost his job as a mechanic at the end of 2005. At the time, CNM was offering a specialized 12-week course in partnership with Eclipse Aviation (now known as Eclipse Aerospace) and he knew his experience would make for an easy career transition. He excelled in the course, and quickly began working for Eclipse Aviation after graduating.

In 2008 Eclipse Aviation went bankrupt, leaving James wondering what to do next. He loved working on planes, so he once again decided to go back to CNM to earn his associate in Aviation Maintenance Technology as well as his Airframe Maintenance and Powerplant Maintenance certifications.

Even though he was older than most of his classmates, James loved all of his classes and was grateful to have the opportunity to go back to college for a third time.

“I never thought I would get a college degree, so I was truly thrilled to complete the associate degree program,” he says. “My instructors were engaging and so knowledgeable, and the combination of classroom and hands-on learning was perfect for me.”

James completed his degree in 2012 and at the same time Eclipse Aviation was purchased and became Eclipse Aerospace. He landed a position as an aircraft manufacturing technician and has continued to work for the company ever since.

As a manufacturing technician James spends his days building the structure and installing the flight controls of Eclipse 550 jet planes.

“This job really brings out my inner kid,” he says with a smile. “I mean, I get to build airplanes every single day. It’s the most fun and easiest job I’ve ever had.”

With 14 years of experience under his belt, James is proud of the career he built for himself as both a mechanic and aircraft technician. As he looks to the future, his biggest piece of advice for young people is to pursue a career in the trades.

“Tradespeople are more important today than ever before,” he says. “We need young people in these fields, and I can say from experience that going to community college and pursuing a trade is a great way to have a rewarding career without breaking the bank. There are so many opportunities out there, you just have to go after them.”