An apprentice at the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA) Lewis Flight Propulsion Laboratory shown training on the altitude supply air systems in the Engine Research Building. An ongoing four-year apprentice program was established at the laboratory in 1949 to facilitate the close interaction of the lab’s engineers, mechanics, technicians, and scientists. The apprentice school covered a variety of trades including aircraft mechanic, electronics instrumentation, machinist, and altitude systems mechanic, seen in this photograph.
The apprentices rotated through the various shops and facilities to provide them with a well-rounded understanding of the work at the lab. The specialized skills required meant that NACA apprentices were held to a higher standard than those in industry. They had to pass written civil service exams before entering the program. Previous experience with mechanical model airplanes, radio transmission, six months of work experience, or one year of trade school was required. The Lewis program was certified by both the Department of Labor and the State of Ohio.
One hundred fifty of the 2,000 hours of annual training were spent in the classroom. The remainder was devoted to study of models and hands-on work in the facilities. Examinations were coupled with evaluation by supervisors in the shops. The apprentices were promoted through a series of grades until they reached journeyman status. Those who excelled in the Apprentice Program would be considered for a separate five-year engineering draftsman program.