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Math teacher calculates success on C-17 planes

  • Published
  • By Jake Chappelle
  • 446th Airlift Wing
Some career advisers might tell a person who specializes in mathematics to consider a military career in computer science, operations research, finance or cryptography.

Airman 1st Class Joel Adriance is a high school math teacher in Coupeville, Wash. He decided to use his skills in a different area when he joined the 446th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron here in March as a hydraulic systems apprentice on C-17 Globemaster III aircraft.

"When I first met (Adriance), I knew immediately that this maintainer was driven to excel," said Chief Master Sgt. Timothy Meyer, 446th AMXS superintendent. "He has a relentless drive to learn even more about the C-17 aircraft's complex hydraulic systems."

Adriance doesn't hesitate to apply his skills of arithmetic to learn and perform maintenance on these systems.

"Many people think math is all about calculations and algebra," Adriance said. "But doing and understanding those requires very logical, sequential, and detail-oriented thinking, which is beneficial to everyone, particularly an aircraft mechanic when it comes to troubleshooting and providing a deep understanding of the C-17's hydraulic systems. But, I don't expect to be bringing my calculator out to the flightline."

Since his arrival from technical school, Adriance has been an impressive apprentice by exceeding strict and demanding aircraft hydraulic journeyman-level training requirements, according to the squadron superintendent.

Master Sgt. John Broome, 446th AMXS aircraft hydraulic craftsman, concurs with the chief's claim.

"The first aircraft we trained on was a mission launch, and he assisted me with replacing the hydraulic system computer," Broome said. "Within minutes, the aircraft was repaired and on its way.

Not only does Adriance bring his fulltime skills to his job in maintenance but his Reserve job also makes its way into the hallways and classrooms of his school.

"One of the ways joining the (Air Force Reserve) has affected my teaching is that students began to approach me with their plans and questions regarding military service," Adriance said. "It has given me a new and unique way of relating to some of my students."

In addition to his aptitude to learn and perform his job, he also provides challenges for some of the seasoned vets with critical thinking.

"He brings knowledge, experience, maturity and a willingness to learn," said Broome, who's been in the Reserve since 1999. "This makes training (him) easier. On the other hand, he asks technical questions about the C-17 that put my knowledge and experience to the test."

Broome also appreciates what Adriance's math skills can bring to the table.

His analytical skills could be beneficial when trouble shooting complex hydraulic problems, said Broome. He has the ability to focus on all aspects of the job, including logistics planning and following through the completion process. He also has the ability to problem solve and multitask, which make him a valuable asset to the squadron.

According to Broome, Adriance's skills and attitude should help him go far in the squadron.

"As long he stays in the enlisted ranks, I see him achieving the senior NCO ranks," he said. "He is a pleasure to work with, and I'm glad to have him on my team."

Adriance's plans, however, may not match the sergeant's vision for his future.

"My dream would be to fly the aircraft I am fixing," Adriance said. "Teaching has given me management experience that I believe would benefit the Air Force when applied in a leadership role.

"Right now, my goal is to learn as much about the C-17 as possible and become a respected and trustworthy hydraulic mechanic," said the father of two.