Brett Mackay’s career journey dates back to his early teenage years when he took an industrial arts course in junior high school. The curriculum included a section on welding and he instantly fell in love. Brett would go on to take even more welding and other trade-focused courses in high school before enrolling in the welding program at Holland College. The program gave Brett a small introduction to machining, another field he quickly gained a passion for. At the end of the one-year welding program, Brett decided to take more time to learn about machining and gain hands-on experience with the tools. Despite his decision to take an extra year to complete the precision machinist program, he was still set on becoming a welder.
“The plan for me was always welding. That is, until I tried something different, and found something I enjoyed even more; machining”
Plans changed for Brett during one of his on-the-job training placements when he was offered a position with 3 Points Aviation. “The plan for me was always welding. That is, until I tried something different, and found something I enjoyed even more; machining”. He seized the opportunity and soon found himself apprenticing under the mentorship of Wayne Harris, a machinist of over four decades; "Wayne expedited my growth as a machinist and toolmaker to levels beyond what I thought I could achieve in such a short time.”
Brett worked at 3 Points Aviation from May 2016 to October 2018, before accepting an offer from his other previous on-the-job training placement, StandardAero. Founded in 1911, StandardAero has become one of the world aerospace industry’s largest independent maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) providers. They offer extensive MRO services and custom solutions for business aviation, commercial aviation, military and, industrial power customers. Brett describes StandardAero as the “mecca of machine shops” in PEI, as it’s known both provincially and worldwide for its high quality of work. Being hired on with the company has been one of the most standout moments of Brett’s career thus far.
As for what Brett’s day-to-day job entails, it’s quite busy and filled with numerous tasks; from repairing aircraft engine components to manufacturing new components required for the repairment of engines, and contributing to the manufacturing of tooling and fixtures used at the StandardAero Summerside facility, as well as other StandardAero facilities around the globe. “Machining lends itself well to precision and perfection - something I'm always striving to achieve”, says Brett, “I get satisfaction from making things in a very precise manner.”
Brett is a great example of how having a passion for what you do makes a positive difference in the final product. As an apprentice, Brett competed in a provincial skills competition for machining, taking first place and moving on to represent PEI at the national level. In his first year at the national competition in 2018, he won silver while representing 3 Points Aviation. The following year Brett had transitioned over to StandardAero and ended up winning gold; “Coming second, then first, in those competitions was amazing considering how well-prepared competitors are when coming from provinces like Quebec and Ontario, where they start machining much earlier in their school systems.” The success didn’t stop there. Shortly after Brett returned home to PEI after taking home the gold as the best apprentice machinist in the country, he wrote and passed the Red Seal exam, completing his formal training.
“Just go for it - my career goals started becoming realities when I pushed to achieve those goals, but it all took time”
Still young and at the beginning of his career journey, Brett has many accomplishments under his belt but recognizes that there’s still so much out there to learn and experience. “Just go for it - my career goals started becoming realities when I pushed to achieve those goals, but it all took time.” Asking questions and picking experienced brains are what have helped Brett progress in the industry and achieve his goals. With much left to accomplish, he hopes to start a machine shop at home as a side business and move into more involved roles at StandardAero, whether it be training, becoming lead hand, or supervisor. Brett has no regrets about the path he took to get to where he is today, and he’ll carry that mindset and passion with him as he ventures further into his career
AEROSPACE & DEFENCE: OUR STORY, YOUR FUTURE