U.S. Navy ‘Sea Knights’ video-chat with MCC students about career training

MCC-Business & Technology students video-chat with Chief Warrant Officer Third Class Jimmy Newton. MCC apprenticeship manager Shonda Atwater (front, right) arranged and moderated the discussion between students and four U.S. Navy sailors in Virginia. (Photo by Courtenay Wills/MCC)

Metropolitan Community College-Business & Technology students got an opportunity to virtually meet and talk with four members of the U.S. Navy “Sea Knights” stationed at the Norfolk Naval Station in Virginia. The Nov. 20 video call was arranged and moderated by MCC apprenticeship manager Shonda Atwater.

By interviewing the men from an active military aircraft hangar, the MCC students learned firsthand how their skills can be put to use in unique environments such as a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier.

Live from Norfolk: The Navy’s Dean Devries (left) and Thomas Sandford.

The sailors on the call were Aviation Machinist’s Mate First Class Dean Devries, Aviation Electrician’s Mate First Class Devin Layser, Chief Warrant Officer Third Class Jimmy Newton and Lt. Junior Grade Thomas “Cosmo” Sandford, a Navy pilot.

Collectively the men — members of Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 22 — have 30 years of experience in areas including fiber optics, infrared detection, avionic repairs and quality assurance.

The sailors took turns answering questions from the MCC students, describing a typical workday and sharing what they enjoy most about the military and working in aviation.

In a Navy news release about the video call, Newton said the best part of his job is “teaching and training other people. I want them to have that ‘aha’ moment.”

Atwater (center) and students take part in the video call. On the other end, the “Sea Knights” passed around a tablet as they answered questions.

Before the call, Atwater told students about her recent tour of the U.S.S. Dwight D. Eisenhower aircraft carrier.

That experience was what led to the video call with students, Atwater said in the Navy story.

“Getting the chance to see an aircraft carrier in action was one of the most powerful experiences of my life,” she said. “When I saw parts produced in Kansas City being unboxed on the ship, it went full circle for me. The machining and manufacturing skills we are teaching our students are vital beyond our city. I just knew I needed to find a way to merge the human element with the parts produced in our region.”