Growing up in Albania, Sami’s passion in aviation was sparked from a young age. Despite the country’s limited access to air transportation — one airport in the nation — he maintained a fascination with airplanes and air travel.
Sami’s family subsequently settled in New York City, where Sami was given a unique opportunity to pursue this interest when he was admitted to Aviation Career & Technical Education High School in Long Island City, Queens. Aviation High School is the only public school in the country that offers the opportunity to obtain Airframe and Power Plant FAA certificates.
Sami now jokes that he initially thought it was a pilot trainee program, but explained that “Aviation High School is more of a hands-on technical school.” Through its FAA-certified program, students can obtain a mechanic’s airframe or power plant certificate via extra shop classes each week. In order to gain both certificates, however, students must commit to an additional year of high school with extended hours of instruction per day.
For those who stay with the program, it proves to be rewarding and worthwhile. Sami describes having the chance to work in the school’s hangar, on a functional 727 aircraft donated by FedEx and as an intern technician with Delta Airlines at JFK International Airport during his fifth year.
Subsequently, he learned more about Pratt & Whitney’s engines and had the chance to meet Pratt & Whitney recruiters. “Delta was actually offering a comparable position,” Sami remembers, “but fortunately, I realized the wide range of benefits that being part of UTC had to offer.” Attracted to the company for its world-class product base coupled with its outstanding employee scholar program, Sami ultimately made the move to Pratt & Whitney as an engine mechanic at the main Engine Center Facility in Middletown, Connecticut.
In the years that followed, Sami obtained a bachelor’s degree in business, participated in multiple lean initiatives which helped the Engine Center obtain ACE Silver certification, transitioned from an engine mechanic into a salaried position in Quality Assurance supporting both military and commercial product lines, and obtained an MBA — gaining both degrees with the help of UTC’s employee scholar program. He was also accepted into UTC’s Operations Leadership Program, which allowed him to gain hands-on experience with a broader range of UTC’s products and services, along with an opportunity to see different parts of the country and the corporation: UTC Aerospace Systems in Arizona, Sikorsky in Connecticut, and his final rotation at the UTC Climate, Controls & Security division in Tennessee — where, as a Business Unit Manager, he led a team of nearly 400 hourly employees and 10 supervisors.
Sami celebrated 10 years with the corporation in December 2015. “I feel like I grew up at UTC,” he explained. “When I joined, I did not realize that Pratt & Whitney was part of something so much bigger. Now I could see myself retiring from UTC because of the countless opportunities for growth and development across the different business units.”
Today, Sami resides in San Diego, California with his fiancé while working at UTC Aerospace Systems as an Operations Strategy Manager. What does the future hold for him? He might stay in operations or move into program management, with the ultimate goal of one day becoming the general manager of a plant. Until then, Sami remains an active member of the recruitment teams searching for the future talent of UTC.