Dings and Dents


Stephen Adilukito examining parts for any damage. Photos by Brody Salazar.

Stephen Adilukito examining parts for any damage. Photos by Brody Salazar.

While the noise of machinery and cutting metal fills one of several buildings owned by Aerospace Commercial Tooling, the interns have a much more quiet and detail-oriented environment. Aerospace Commercial Tooling is a company focused on creating reproduction tools, but is shifting its focus to creating aircraft parts  because it provides consistent work.

As interns, Ryan Molina and Stephen Adilukito are assigned to the detailing building, where they work with the tools. They are not tasked with operating heavy machinery or running the waterjet, but they do manufacture small parts for planes. The job calls for an extreme attention to detail because of the size of the parts. 

“There’s just an expectation of quality, and they just trust that it will be done,” says Molina.

Adilukido showing a dent in a part.

Adilukido showing a dent in a part.

Even the smallest dent can lead to the whole part being scrapped. This is because every part is “supposed to go up in the sky,” according to Molina. They have to check every side of every piece, for dents, cuts that are too deep and other abnormalities. If there are, hundreds of dollars worth of products could go to waste.

In addition to having to be careful, some parts also require work to be done quickly. Some of the larger parts come in bins full of dry ice to make them easier to shape, but the work must be done before the metal warms up.

A lot of the work they do often requires hammers and mallets, but, occasionally, they have to use a power sander. Molina claims the work is more of a focused environment, not one involving a lot of stressful, fast-paced work, despite how “important a lot of the work is.”

However, Molina and Adilukito do not always have something to do. These lulls are what Molina describes as his least favorite part of the internship. 

Because the employees are often busy with work the interns are not ready for, they sometimes do not have time to direct the interns and tell them what else needs to be done.

Ryan Molina speaking about the use of the waterjet.

Ryan Molina speaking about the use of the waterjet.

Although the employees might have a lot of work to do, if there is a question or a mistake, they take the time to help the interns when there is a problem and show them how to do whatever they are having difficulty with, according to Adilukito.

“They’re all nice,” says Adilukito. “Like I said, they’re all willing to lend me a listening ear. When I ask questions, they reply back with sincerity, and they reply back with knowledge that I haven’t remembered before. If I make a mistake...like someone did make a mistake on their end, so I listen in and glean on how I can improve myself.”

Both Molina and Adilukito feel like they have learned a lot from Aerospace Commercial Tooling and will look to bring the skills learned there to their lives outside and future careers.

Although Molina plans to make prosthetics, he believes what he has learned in detailing will be very helpful. This skillset is directly applicable to Adilukito, who is currently studying to enter the field of aircraft maintenance, and he has since been employed by Aerospace and Commercial Tooling.