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Mason Hardy – Canadian Valley Technology Center

CareerTech grad drones on and on about his new career.

THEN: In his own words, college after high school “didn’t go well.” Mason Hardy needed to learn a trade and find a stable job, so when Canadian Valley Technology Center offered him a Next Step Scholarship waiving his tuition, he enrolled in its automotive collision technology program.

He learned how to paint cars damaged in collisions, but he also

  • Had an opportunity to hear from potential hiring managers.
  • Got leads on numerous job openings.
  • Received career advice that helped him land a job.

This spring, Hardy was named one of the CV Tech Foundation’s Outstanding Scholars, but the career path he took after graduation was somewhat unconventional.

It was a guest speaker who sent Hardy down a career path he didn’t even know existed. Instructor David Venard invited a senior manager from Kratos, a drone-manufacturing company, to speak to the class about career opportunities. Soon, Hardy found himself on a phone interview with the company. After another interview in person, he was offered a job. Even after he accepted, he said, he wasn’t sure what kind of drones he’d be painting. He just knew he had the skills they were looking for.

“Everything we paint is made of carbon fiber deposits,” Hardy said. “Just like with cars, I do prep work and body work to fill in imperfections in the aircraft. Then I primer and paint.”

Hardy paints high performance unmanned aerial tactical and target drone systems for the military, including the newly organized U.S. Space Force. The smallest drone produced at the facility is 7 feet long, but Hardy also paints combat drones, used in air-to-air or air-to-ground scenarios. These aircraft are 36 feet long and have wings that measure 15 feet.

NOW: Proud of the work he does and making good, steady money. Hardy calls it “a blessed opportunity,” saying he likes knowing he is helping protect the lives of service members and American interests around the world.

“I give much of the credit to my instructor and counselors.”

Mason Hardy, painter for Kratos drone manufacturer

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