Welcome to the A Team

By Elizabeth McCann

Uriel Rocha Flores joined Northrop Grumman last year. As a newly-hired technician, Uriel became a member of the first class of Aeronautic Systems Training for Advanced Refinement (ASTAR), a training program that provides hands-on training to new aircraft mechanics before they set foot on a Northrop Grumman production floor.

As a member of the first ASTAR cohort, Uriel had a unique opportunity to help shape the program while benefitting from its curriculum.

How did you come to Northrop Grumman?
Before I came to the program, I was building electric city busses. After four years, I didn’t see any doors opening for me. I looked into Northrop Grumman and ended up going to about six job fairs. I finally talked to a guy who really liked my work in my last job, and I ended up getting an interview a week after.

What was the ASTAR experience like?
With the ASTAR team, it’s pretty much a whole setup of how things go in each program, such as ergonomics training, personal protective equipment (PPE) showcase, and floor planning. It just prepares you, mentally. When you go there, you kind of know what you’re doing already. ASTAR training taught me everything I needed to [know] before setting foot on the floor.

How has ASTAR made you a better technician?
I never thought that I would ever build something amazing like I am now. Mentality wise, the ASTAR team built me up. It prepared me before I actually went into the contracted program. I got a vision of what I was going to do, and it made me feel comfortable because I didn’t go into this new program not knowing anything. ASTAR built my confidence.

How did ASTAR prepare you for your current role?
After ASTAR, I was ready to work on actual products. Now, I do a lot of structure work―drilling, bonding on brackets, mating a lot of stuff together, and composite work as well. I take pride in my work. I’m not thinking of today, I’m thinking, ‘There’s going to be a pilot flying that.’ I’m not only thinking about the build. I’m also thinking about that pilot’s life. It makes me happy to know I’m doing something like that.

What do you love about Northrop Grumman?
I enjoy coming to work. Every day I do something different. I learn something different. I get a certification for something different. It’s amazing to be here. It’s a blessing.

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The Making of Stars