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Aero-Flex Success Stories

Success Stories & Testimonials

OSI Optoelectronics/ El Camino College Aero-Flex
Pre-Apprenticeship Graduate
Hawthorne High School of Manufacturing & Engineering Graduates
Lisi Aerospace - El Camino College Machine Tool Technology Program Graduates
Northrop - El Camino College Machine Tool Technology Program Graduates

Meet Edwin Gamez
Aero-Flex Apprenticeship Graduate

Edwin Gamez, Airframe and Powerplant (A&P) Mechanic at The Airplane Factory in Torrance, shares his experience in the SBWIB Aero-Flex Apprenticeship Program.


Mr. Gamez had recently graduated from West LA College, with their assistance, was referred to the SBWIB Aero-Flex program and The Airplane Factory, got employed and was enrolled into the Aero-Flex Pre-Apprentice program and then later enrolled as an Apprentice.

Meet Lizbeth Rios
Aero-Flex Apprenticeship Graduate

Lizbeth Rios is the first female to graduate from the SBWIB Aero-Flex Aerospace Engineering Appren-ticeship Program!


Ms. Rios completed her apprenticeship under the sponsorship of Tooling U-SME and participated with Impresa Aerospace. As a graduate, she received her certificate of completion from the United States Department of Labor and the California Department of Apprenticeship Standards. 

Aaron Damsell is a twenty-eight-year-old at West LA College, a partner school of the South Bay Workforce Investment Board (SBWIB). Through West LA College he was offered the opportunity to enroll in the SBWIB’s Aero-Flex Pre-Apprenticeship program and learn a set of valuable skills in aerospace. The program also offered management and leadership training.


Aaron completed the Blueprint for Workplace Success training which provided him business knowledge, ladder to success, how to write a resume and interviewing skills. He also took technical training at Tooling U-SME. The technical training and work experience allowed him to be more familiar with the process of a manufacturing chain.


Aaron is pursuing a career as an aviation technician and is 100 percent sure he will be doing fabrication and line work.

“This is your first step towards a rewarding career path in aerospace, it opens doors and depending on how you use the information, it can educate you further and help set you up for success in the next opportunity.”

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Juan Placeres 

24th Annual Alumni Award Recipient

Juan Placeres is an incoming senior at Hawthorne High School, School of Manufacturing and Engineering. Through the academy, along with 22 other students, he successfully completed the Aero-Flex Pre-Apprenticeship Program. During the program he completed the Blueprint for Workplace Success course, enrolled in technical training at Tooling U-SME and obtained 80 hours of work experience in an industry level manufacturing lab.

The Academy and Aero-Flex Pre-Apprenticeship program opened opportunities for Mr. Placeres to experience engineering first hand. He aims to attend college after graduating and is interested in the virtual reality programs, building computers and 3D.

"This Pre-Apprenticeship pushed me forward to pursuing a career in
engineering. I got to experience so many new things, it opened my eyes to how much you can do in the shop.”

Ragib Sakib, transferred to Hawthorne High School, School of Manufacturing and Engineering. Initially his idea of a career in engineering was a high unreachable goal. However, after enrolling in SBWIB’s Aero-Flex Pre-Apprenticeship Program, a career in engineering seemed more attainable. He accompanied other students on a tour of the LA Metro Division 13 Bus Maintenance and Operations facility. The students discovered that advanced technologies were being used to manage the major maintenance of buses used by the Metro.

The program demonstrated a realistic way of understanding what the career is and how to think as an engineer. Mr. Sakib now aspires to study computer engineering in college and work at a firm like Boeing or Raytheon.

"After the program, engineering seems like a realistic idea to me, like actual attainable goals. I think everyone should be a part of the pre-apprenticeship program.”


Ragib Sakib

24th Annual Alumni Award Recipient


Daniel Tang
Jaewon Yoo
Safran Aerosystems
Chloe Louis
Northrop Grumman  HIP
Dean Nguyun
Safran Aerosystems
Mark Aquiapao
Los Angeles, CA
L3 Technologies
Impresa December Graduates
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Pictured left to right: Samantha Drew Doloroso, Lizbeth Rios, David Aguallo, Andrew Undercoffer

Samantha is a 21-year-old resident of Long Beach who has worked at Impresa for two years in Document Control Clerk/Quality Assurance. She is currently enrolled at El Camino College majoring as a Chemical Engineer. Sam will be considered to continue in the Aero-Flex Apprenticeship- Aerospace Engineer program. Reflecting on her long term goals, she noted, “I’m still undecided on an exact career, but I hope I’m able to have a positive impact on society.” Considering her strong work ethic and on –the-job performance, excellent work-readiness skills that allowed her to waive Track I’s Work Readiness coursework, and strong scores on 47 technical classes in Track II, there’s little doubt of her success.

Lizbeth, 23 year-olds from El Monte, recently graduated from UC San Diego with a Bachelor of Science in Aerospace Engineering with a minor in music and is a Process Engineer at Impresa. She completed 34 technical training classes and a 14-week related on-the-job training within her employment. She is a prime candidate to flow her career pathway to the Aero-Flex Apprenticeship-Aerospace Engineer under the tutelage of Impresa Aerospace’s team.


David, a Carson resident and 32 years old, took his High School diploma and love of the aerospace industry, landing work at Impresa Aerospace. Working 

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in this team environment for nine years, he was excited to be recommended for the Aero-Flex Pre-Apprenticeship as Project Planner where he excelled at the Work Readiness track (Blueprint for Workplace Success) and his 48 technical courses.  His goal is to learn a new trade in engineering and use his experience to grow and excel in the aerospace industry.


Andrew, 31-year-old from Gardena, entered the Aero-Flex Pre-Apprenticeship as an intern. Having graduated from Virginia Tech University with a Bachelor of Science, his goal is to become a competent designer and later on move into a leadership position. He found his Aero-Flex Pre-Apprenticeship’s 53 assigned technical classes helpful especially in learning more about geometric tolerances. His career pathway may flow into a related apprenticeship in Quality Control/Inspection.

Within the coming year, Impresa Aerospace, under Dennis Fitzgerald’s leadership, may name a few of these graduates and others in their organization to join the Aero-Flex Apprenticeship-Aerospace Engineer, a program Dennis is piloting with another graduate, Edgar Ramirez.

Edgar Ramirez’s, career pathway includes learning every aspect of a skill needed for his career and to obtain the experience necessary to be in a position of leadership while continuing to learn.

While finishing his Bachelor of Science in Mathematics from California State University, Dominguez Hills and interning at Impresa, he began the Aero-Flex Pre-Apprenticeship during summer 2018.

Impresa’s Vice President of Operations and team were so impressed with Edgar’s passion and commitment, they hired him full-time under the new SBWIB Aero-Flex Aerospace Engineering Apprenticeship registered with the U.S. Department of Labor and California Department of Apprenticeship Standards. Edgar is now the first Aerospace Engineering apprentice in the nation to be hired under the Aero-Flex apprenticeship!

"I learned a lot from the Blueprint Work Readiness training and ToolingU curriculum. I will continue to search for opportunities where I can continuously learn and improve my skills, and in return; allow me to do my work at a high standard.”


Edgar - 23rd Annual Alumni Award Recipient

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Khan Tran, thirty-three-year-old student at El Camino College with expected graduation this May, migrated to the United States over three years ago. Having an electrical engineering degree from Vietnam, he stated having a hard time finding a job in the field. He heard about the Aero-Flex Pre-Apprenticeship in Engineering (AFPA) program during an announcement at El Camino College and signed up.

“For me it was perfect. It was interesting to improve and get experience with Magnetika. It was a great opportunity to apply my knowledge in real work,” he stated. Upon completion, he will be working at Magnetika.

Bushra Khan, twenty-five years old, has an electrical engineering degree from Pakistan. Before coming across information on the Aero-Flex Pre-Apprenticeship in Engineering (AFPA) program, she was applying to a lot of places. She was looking for internships in her field.

Bushra heard about the AFPA program and was especially interested to get the experience in engineering. She interned for Magnetika for four months, started in August 2017. Her overall experience as she stated was, “really good, I learned a lot of things, people are very nice.”

Her word of advice for interested AFPA students is, “you can do it, it’s a learning process, you can learn a lot, it is really great to get your foot in the door.”

Andrew, thirty-year old student at El Camino College previously obtained a degree in engineering. He had a degree in his desired field but little work experience. He spent the first decade out of high school working in different jobs but none in his field of interest or was able to get the experience on the job.

He heard about the Aero-Flex Pre-Apprenticeship in Engineering (AFPA) program in a drafting course. He found the courses to be a great exercise, good review in math, science and engineering and learned a lot. Plus, it gave him an internship as a manufacturing engineer with Magnetika.

Andrew will be working for Magnetika upon completing the program. He stated, “I am grateful for the great opportunity the program has given me. I wouldn’t have found the job I have. There is something satisfactory about all the knowledge you’ve learned in school is being applied at a job.”

Skyler Baye connected with Impresa Aerospace through his Redondo Union High School Robotics Club. As a member and then mentor to this group, he met Dennis Fitzgerald’s son and eventually, Mr. Fitzgerald. Impressed with Skyler’s skills and personality, Dennis offered him a summer and part time job. Now a freshman at El Camino College, Skyler intends to mix school and work, eventually earning an Engineering and then Doctorate degree.

"I didn’t expect to do that caliber of work at age 19. In fact, I didn’t like CAD before this experience. The online coursework was very helpful, especially the add-ons that Dennis selected specifically for my interests. I related to the Blueprint discussions on leadership, financial literacy and team work.”

Joshua Wong, a Lawndale resident, is a going into his senior year at Cal State University Long Beach, having transferred from El Camino College working toward his BS in Aerospace Engineering. Josh entered the Aero-Flex Pre-Apprenticeship through his summer internship with Impresa Aerospace LLC. Already working on a part time basis at Impresa, Josh took advantage of the company’s offer to participate in the Aero-Flex Pre-Apprenticeship 2nd cohort.

Josh found the Blueprint soft skill development a perfect companion to what he’d learned in College and through the Manufacturing Management -Tooling U-SME course.


“Some of the Pre-Apprenticeship was a refresher but things like GDNA (industry standards) and on-the-floor experiences are not taught in college.”

Verania Ceja Franco followed the Engineering pathway as a student at Hawthorne High School and is now enrolled at California State University, Northridge with the goal of becoming a civil or mechanical engineer. She had the honor of working with Northrop’s James Webb Space Telescope project team during her internship. She excelled in the work readiness skill track as well as the additional industry specific course work designated by her employer.

"Thank you for having invited me to the Awards Ceremony. It was really fun and it gave me even more motivation to continue my education so that soon I could be a mechanical engineer. My sister and I really enjoyed attending and watching all the people get awards for various reasons. Hopefully in the next four to five years I can become an engineer for military jets or cars. Events like those make me look forward to the future and try harder in my education.”

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Verania - 22nd Annual Alumni Award Recipient

Matthew - 22nd Annual Alumni Award Recipient

Matthew Paysee, as a senior at El Segundo High School, was enrolled in the school’s Engineering Career Pathway. He is now attending El Camino College and anticipates to transfer to a four-year university. During the Aero-Flex Pre-Apprenticeship, he was able to work ‘hands on’ with mentors at Northrop Grumman.  He was impressed how his work experience allowed him to handle equipment, work with a variety of software, and experience multiple areas of the company’s business.

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Kristin Villanueva has her sights set on Materials Engineering, moving on to Cal Poly San Luis Obispo in the Fall. She found that her Northrop Grumman internship in Global Supply Chain Management helped her extend her background of knowledge in the industry.


She, like others, described how the AFPA three- track model (work readiness, technical skills offered online-as selected by Northrop, and the work experience) made the experience so relevant to her past studies and future career aspirations.

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Roderick Hughes saw this as an interesting option to explore although he was focused on a career in the music industry.  After completing Aero-Flex Pre-Apprenticeship, he realized how much he enjoyed the engineering work and that he can combine his love for music and the benefits of a career pathway in Engineering. He’s on his way to American University in DC to work toward a degree in Audio Engineering.

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