Things to keep in mind as an apprentice?

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Can_Of_Aerokroil
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Things to keep in mind as an apprentice?

#1 Post by Can_Of_Aerokroil » Wed Jun 01, 2016 9:59 pm

Hey guys,

I just landed a job as an AME 'M' Apprentice working on M2 Catagory Aircraft, and I start in 2 weeks. I have some experience on DC-3's and a logbook started already. I can work the manuals fairly well as I've practiced it a lot in college (though I still rely on a pocket chart for ATA's), and have a full tool chest with 100% tool accountability. I'm fully prepared to make as many coffee runs ( at my own expense ) as needed, as well as sweep and clean. I'm the type who has a very positive attitude. I'm also the type to keep his head down and says "Yes, sir" to everything, and have pretty thick skin so I'm also prepard for the hazing.

What I would like to ask you all though, what would you as a Senior AME want to see from an apprentice on his first few days to make a good first impression? I just want to make sure that I do everything I possibly can to distinguish myself from a lot of other apprentices in the field who have bad attitudes and don't take things seriously.

If any of you have any tips for me to keep in mind, that would be awesome.


Thanks in advance.
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Re: Things to keep in mind as an apprentice?

#2 Post by SeptRepair » Thu Jun 02, 2016 9:46 pm

Don't stand around if you have nothing to do. Grab a broom and dust pan and start cleaning the shop. Be a self starter. If the floor is clean, wipe down equipment.
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Re: Things to keep in mind as an apprentice?

#3 Post by conehead » Fri Jun 03, 2016 4:50 am

Do as much as you can, learn as much as you can.
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Re: Things to keep in mind as an apprentice?

#4 Post by Troubleshot » Fri Jun 03, 2016 5:38 am

sounds like you have your head in the right spot, I'm sure you'll do fine. like the other guys have mentioned don't stand around and do nothing, if you are not sure what needs to be done just ask someone.

-volunteer for the crappy jobs, you'll get huge respect from your crew.

-if you break/damage something while working make sure you tell someone, don't rush, and ask for help if you need it.

-no horse play...well at least till you've been there a bit ;-)

-print off the required MM, FIM, WD's references, etc...before you start a task, read it all before you start and don't deviate unless instructed.(see next line)

-there are others working on different parts of the aircraft. Make sure you speak with others before throwing switches, jacking the plane, etc...

Be safe out there and use PPE. Hearing protection, safety glasses, gloves with chemicals, etc...

Good luck
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Re: Things to keep in mind as an apprentice?

#5 Post by Broken Slinky » Fri Jun 03, 2016 10:48 am

Like Troubleshot stated, it sounds like you're on the right path.
I'm not an AME but a business owner. Show up early and make sure you're ready to work when the start horn goes off. I instantly get an upturned nose if the employee sits in his car until seconds before his shift starts. Keep you hands out of your pockets or on your hips. A boss of mine way back in the day said he knew you were not working or caring if you did either. If your superior gives you a task and you don't understand how or what they're talking about ask them to explain. Nothing worse than doing a job entirely wrong because you were too afraid to ask for guidance. Having to do the same job twice because of that will make you unpopular.
If you've finished the task and you've spot shined the shop, don't be afraid to ask if you can assist one of the other employees. If there's something you want to learn, don't be afraid to ask for the manuals to read at home or on your lunch break. Things like a pitot/static tester come to mind. I'll drop what I'm doing to print off manuals for some keener that wants to learn.
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Re: Things to keep in mind as an apprentice?

#6 Post by Can_Of_Aerokroil » Fri Jun 03, 2016 11:34 am

Thanks all for the advice, appreciated.
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Re: Things to keep in mind as an apprentice?

#7 Post by Choppermech1986 » Fri Jun 03, 2016 2:03 pm

Don't be a Melba Toast, getting coffee at your own expense all the time and saying 'yes sir' to everything won't get you very much respect from me. I want a CO-worker who has something to offer both as a worker and as a personality and of course someone who wants to be part of the team. At the end of the day, your personality will shine through and won't really be able to be changed, it's your work ethic that you ultimately have control over when you start a new job.

Oh, and it's not the first few days that I'm worried about you distinguishing yourself in, it's how you distinguish yourself after three, six and 12 months into the job.

Have fun and work hard!
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Re: Things to keep in mind as an apprentice?

#8 Post by rubberboot » Fri Jun 03, 2016 5:50 pm

Troubleshot wrote:sounds like you have your head in the right spot, I'm sure you'll do fine. like the other guys have mentioned don't stand around and do nothing, if you are not sure what needs to be done just ask someone.

-volunteer for the crappy jobs, you'll get huge respect from your crew.

-if you break/damage something while working make sure you tell someone, don't rush, and ask for help if you need it.

-no horse play...well at least till you've been there a bit ;-)

-print off the required MM, FIM, WD's references, etc...before you start a task, read it all before you start and don't deviate unless instructed.(see next line)

-there are others working on different parts of the aircraft. Make sure you speak with others before throwing switches, jacking the plane, etc...

Be safe out there and use PPE. Hearing protection, safety glasses, gloves with chemicals, etc...

Good luck
This is very good advice. 2 more I would like to add though.

1. Leave your cell phone in your locker or tool box. Smart phones are going to be the down fall of the English language, but worse is the human factors issues that they cause. I have seen way too many people on their cell phones in the middle of jobs. Bad practice to get into...

2. If you do make a mistake, take ownership. There is not much worse than someone who tries to share blame for poor quality work with others. These are the type that say "well he looked at it too" in hopes of taking less responsibility for their actions. In 20 years, I have had 2 such apprentices, and neither were with us long enough to earn their licenses. I am pretty sure that the mechanics will be reluctant to sign off tasks in your log book, if you try and bring them into your poor quality work.

I agree though, the burden of buying coffee is usually bourne by taking turns amongst the crew and not the apprentices only. Or at least it used to be...
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Re: Things to keep in mind as an apprentice?

#9 Post by 747-875 » Sat Jun 04, 2016 10:49 am

Welcome in! A few apprentice things I notice as an AME...

- Consistently show up on time if not early every day. Aim to arrive at the shop 10-15 minutes before your shift officially starts is usually about right. If you need to leave early that's usually cool as long as you ask nicely, give a good reason, give as much notice as possible, and offer to make up for it another way or time. If you want and to leave early that's usually fine with most of the guys as long as it's a slow day, you ask the lead/supervisor/senior AME/whatever your shop has first, and you present a valid reason. At least for the first while if it is a really slow night I'd still wait until someone else brings up the idea of an early night first.

- ALWAYS read ALL of the instructions FIRST. If you don't know, ask. If you're not sure, ask. If you forgot, ask. If you're just curious, ask! As an apprentice you're number one job is to LEARN. If you don't find yourself constantly asking good questions, you're not learning enough. Not all questions have to be about your specific task either, if your working on things you already know how to do then throw in some questions about the airplanes or airline in general.

- As mentioned, with big airplanes there are often many things moving near lots of people, so before you do anything that would make noises or move things on a different part of the airplane (turning on fuel or hydraulic pumps, moving throttles, anything at all like that), ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS do a lap around the airplane and check with and/or warn anyone else working on the same airplane.

- One really super noticeable trick is if you finish your task, always go immediately to your lead and tell them "____ is all done, what's next on the to do list?". If everything is done, the lead isn't around, or you don't have time for a new project before lunch or end of shift, then either grab a broom or start wiping any oily cowls.

- If you f*** up, just say so. You'll probably end up having to buy a sack of beer or a tray of coffees, but last I checked those are a heck of a lot cheaper than killing 150 people. Also keep in mind everyone in aviation knows everyone else, so if you tell your shift "hey I think I broke this" you'll look like an idiot for a day. If you let it ride and it snowballs into something major, you'll look like an idiot for the rest of your career.

- Work with the other departments, not against them. I know guys that are always whining to/about other departments, and I know guys who consider everyone at the company one big team, and the latter almost always have a more pleasant day and get what they want more often. Today ramp or grooming might be in a real pinch meanwhile you have all night with just paperwork left to do, but tomorrow you might be trying to change a main wheel on a turn by yourself with five ramp guys available to help if you're nice to them.

- Remember to have fun and don't stress too much. When you see, hear and are told stupid things don't bother banging your head against a wall, you'll wear it out way too fast in this game.
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Re: Things to keep in mind as an apprentice?

#10 Post by Can_Of_Aerokroil » Sat Jun 04, 2016 11:43 am

747, I definitely agree with you 100% about taking ownership when I screw something up. I've heard many horror stories of people hiding their mistakes, that ultimately lead to multiple lives lost. In my time working on DC-3's, I screwed up numerous times, and told my lead immediately, all that it cost me was a 2-4 of Moosehead for the guys, instead of lives.

To address Choppermech's reply, what I mean by saying I say 'Yes sir' to everything, is that I totally expect all the crappy jobs the other guys don't want to do, and I'm perfectly ok with doing them. I'm pretty much getting paid to learn, so I don't see any sane reason to deny a job no matter how crappy. *Bring on the Lavs and VGV Inspections please!*


Again, thanks to all for the great advice. :D
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Re: Things to keep in mind as an apprentice?

#11 Post by PilotDAR » Sat Jun 04, 2016 2:12 pm

When you think you have completed the task, review your work. Stop and think about what you have done, and that it was complete and correct. Check your tools, are they all out of the plane, and back where they should be?

If you're working in the cockpit or cabin, taking seats/seatbelts in and out, after you think you're done, pretend you're the person who is going to ride in that seat and try it. Sit in each seat, do up the seat belt, and move the seat as its design allows - does everything work as it should? Seatbelts do up?

How many times I've climbed in to fly a maintenance check flight, and find that the seat is not in the tracks/will not move, or the seat belt is wrong, and will not do up!

If the pilot tells you it's not right, that is what the pilot really thinks. 'Could be that the pilot's wrong, but, does the pilot have more time flying it than you have fixing it? 'Might be worth considering what the pilot has to say about the plane. Maybe you can teach the pilot - maybe the pilot can teach you!

Clean the windows, and the greasy hand prints. Yes, pilots can and should clean their plane too, but they'll think well of not having to think about it! If the pilot asks you to help them load something, and your responsibilities allow, help the pilots load stuff.
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Re: Things to keep in mind as an apprentice?

#12 Post by GyvAir » Sun Jun 05, 2016 3:07 pm

Good thread, good advice.

Heed the smartphone advice. Putting them down or keeping it in your pocket can be like turning down free all-day cocaine for a lot of people. Bloody annoying. Figure out a way to fight the urge. Leave it in your car/toolbox/locker, if need be. I guarantee that that pic your girlfriend snapchatted you can wait until break time.

You’ll likely work with a whole range of AMEs with their respective traits and personalities; some good, some less so. Figure out which ones have the respect of their colleagues, management, flight department, etc., figure out why they have that respect, and try to emulate them.
Try to avoid getting roped into the black cloud negativity clique. That’s a losing game.

If you borrow a tool, for God’s sake bring it back and bring it back in as good or better condition than you received it in. Broke it? It happens. Own up to it and make arrangements to replace it. Again, with equal or better.

And yes, the better you do on the crappy jobs, the fewer times you’ll be asked to do them. If you do them well and do them without a sulk, you’ll quickly graduate to something more interesting.
This goes for the senior apprentice/junior AME/any AME for that matter too. If you’re asked to do the lav after you’ve gotten used to doing more desirable jobs, it’s not a demotion or an insult. It just means the job needs done and somebody needs to do it.
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Re: Things to keep in mind as an apprentice?

#13 Post by PilotDAR » Sun Jun 05, 2016 3:31 pm

And yes, the better you do with on the crappy jobs, the fewer times you’ll be asked to do them.
Very true. Story:

I was employed by Worldways, not even as a mechanic, but rather as a ramp person, which wasn't much, as Air Canada handled us at the time. I just did joe jobs. I was told to assure that the Air Canada baggage guys installed the cargo nets after loading the baggage, but before closing the doors (this prevented the bags from shifting in flight, and blocking the doors closed at the destination, which apparently had been a problem). One of the Air Canada guys drew my attention to the fact that no one seemed to have cleaned out the tracks into which the nets would clip, since the plane left Boeing. I asked around timidly, to find that apparently no one ever did this, nor intended to. So I just did. I made a little tool which reached into the track to scrape out years of gunge. I went down on my days off ('cause I liked being around planes anyway), and asked the Worldways maintenance guys if I could run water in the holds. They more or less said if you want that thankless job, go ahead, no one else here is going to do it. So I did.

While scrubbing out the third 707 in the hangar, I heard a thump thump on the outside of the belly near the door of the old I was cleaning. It was Roy Moore, who owned the whole company, giving a bunch of suits the grand tour - and here I was filthy, scruffy in jeans and T shirt, definitely doing a job other than that for which I was hired. Feeling very out of place, I explained and owned up that as no one else did it, I just decided to do it myself, rather than antagonizing others by pointing out the obvious - someone needed to do this. Mr. Moore slowly grinned, announced to the group (who I now saw included the person who had hired me), and said, "that's what I like, someone who just gets the job done.".

With no further word to me, Mr. Moore continued the tour. Ahhh, not going to be fired! Within a week, I was offered a promotion of very unexpected advancement, to apprentice a management position, which was assigned to me whole nine months later. I did that job, and many others, for Worldways for years. I learned that the boss is always quietly looking for the person who will make the extra effort, and just get the job done. Though I was never in Mr. Moore's social circle, we maintained acquaintance thereafter. I had a very nice chat with him a few weeks before he passed away. His wife asked me to offer a eulogy at his funeral, which I accepted with a feeling of out of place humility. I was one of only two to be asked to offer a eulogy, the other being the former Vice President of Worldways who originally hired me there. After I, and the VP spoke our eulogies, one other member of the audience asked to say a few words: That was the first time I had met Max Ward in person - more humility, I don't turn in his circles either!

My moral, work hard. Don't show up your co workers, that does not help, just work hard - it'll be worth it!
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Re: Things to keep in mind as an apprentice?

#14 Post by conehead » Sun Jun 05, 2016 3:48 pm

What a great story! Usually you can look around the job site and see somethings that need to be done... so just do it!
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Re: Things to keep in mind as an apprentice?

#15 Post by 747-875 » Mon Jun 06, 2016 10:18 am

GyvAir wrote:Good thread, good advice.
Try to avoid getting roped into the black cloud negativity clique. That’s a losing game.

If you borrow a tool, for God’s sake bring it back and bring it back in as good or better condition than you received it in. Broke it? It happens. Own up to it and make arrangements to replace it. Again, with equal or better.

And yes, the better you do on the crappy jobs, the fewer times you’ll be asked to do them. If you do them well and do them without a sulk, you’ll quickly graduate to something more interesting.
This goes for the senior apprentice/junior AME/any AME for that matter too. If you’re asked to do the lav after you’ve gotten used to doing more desirable jobs, it’s not a demotion or an insult. It just means the job needs done and somebody needs to do it.
Also these. Everyone whines sometimes, it's what humans do, but you'll find some groups do so much more than needed. Stay positive, it will be hard but it will be worth it! You will get crap jobs, but nine times out of ten it's nothing personal, it's just a job that needs to get done and you happened to be around to do it. The best thing you can do for yourself is just accept that, do your job, and carry on. If you need to borrow tools to get the job done that's cool, just remember to always ask first and religiously put them back when your done. It's just a fact of life that you won't and probably can't have the tool for everything when you first start. Owning a working tool box is just like owning a house, there's no such thing as finished. Most mechanics I know are really good about lending tools, until the day one doesn't come back.

As for the phone thing, I use mine all the time. However, while working I generally limit it to either playing music (the radio stations here suck) or sending work related texts and calls (for example if I'm riding brakes I might text someone at the hangar to tell them when it's good to start opening doors). Personal stuff unless it's an emergency the phone can stay in your pocket and you can get back to them during coffee break.

And the other big one I forgot but I see someone beat me to it, when your working in the cabin or near windows wipe up your mess after! Nobody wants to see your greasy finger prints all over the window, and if you have a grooming department you'll make nothing but friends if you clean up after yourself. It's the right thing to do and as an added bonus it makes us all look good.
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Re: Things to keep in mind as an apprentice?

#16 Post by casey » Thu Jun 09, 2016 8:38 am

Excellent posts
All the above should be required reading on the last day of classes
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Re: Things to keep in mind as an apprentice?

#17 Post by Glasnost » Fri Jun 10, 2016 7:47 pm

Slow down and think about what you are doing. What effect is anything you do going to have on anything else. If you remove hardware, what is going to support what you are removing it from. If you move something/operate something, what is it connected to, and what or who might be in the way.

Have checks and balances for everything. If your company does not have anything in its MPM or training program, make sure you have a system for keeping track of tools, or flagging things that you've taken apart or are unairworthy.

Attitude, honesty, and humility are probably the biggest though. Have a good work ethic, a duty to keeping the pilot and passengers safe, fess up at mistakes, listen to advice, learn all you can, and treat everyone with respect.
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Re: Things to keep in mind as an apprentice?

#18 Post by DonutHole » Fri Jun 10, 2016 8:13 pm

You can learn something from the guy sweeping floors.

If you feel off about something do something about it. Sleepless nights are no fun. If you think something is wrong confirm that something isn't.

Buy a toolbox right now and fill it with as many tools as you can. Buy a quality 1/4 ratchet and a quality ratcheting screwdriver. If you are not equipped to do a job then you can't expect to be given the job.

Pay attention to your amo procedures and never deviate from them... Trust me, you want to be friends with your qa guy.

Find a way to show off your intelligence without being an asshole.

Keep your logbook up to date religiously.

Keep a personal record of anything you touch.

Get your own damned pen and don't lose it!!!!

Be safe and good luck
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Re: Things to keep in mind as an apprentice?

#19 Post by Can_Of_Aerokroil » Sat Jun 11, 2016 9:30 pm

DonutHole wrote:
Buy a toolbox right now and fill it with as many tools as you can. Buy a quality 1/4 ratchet and a quality ratcheting screwdriver.
This raises a point I'd like to ask you seasoned AME's about... I've worked on cars before, and, built up a tool chest with tools. I'm going to list what I have in it below, and if you could kindly take the time, give it a quick read and let me know if there's anything i'm missing that i'll need before I start working on aircraft. That would be awesome, thanks again everyone! :)


I have a full roll-away tool chest filled with multiple socket and ratchet sets (6p,12p,U) breaker bars (2 different sizes), along with multiple wrench sets including combo's, stubby's, 60/40's, offset, and ratcheting(box-end only, none of that open-end wrench ratcheting crap), and adjustable wrenches from 6" to 24" in length. Full set of Straight-Head screwdrivers, Philip's set, ratcheting bit-drivers (2 of them, along with a whole whack of bits). In addition, 2 pairs of lockwire pliers (silicon insert ones) in 2 different sizes, 2 sets of duckbills, 2 sets of needle nose, multiple size channel locks and slip-joints, internal + external snap ring pliers, wire cutters (good ones :D), Files from dead-smooth to coarse, deadblow hammers, ball-peens in multiple weights, pin-punches + taper punches, 12-peice pick-set, 4-peice pry-bar set (yeah, i know i know, dont pry on anything), a drawer full of about, off the top of my head, 8 flashlights? a box full of flagging tape and gloves, respirator, safety glasses, 6" and 12" steel rule (both graduated in 16ths up to 100ths), a few different aluminum drifts, and, I think thats about it to be honest.


Again, thanks for taking the time. Also, I'd like to apologize for that awful and messy paragraph, haha.
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Re: Things to keep in mind as an apprentice?

#20 Post by PilotDAR » Sun Jun 12, 2016 9:57 am

Leave the adjustable wrenches and channel locks at home. Instead, buy the three size set of Knipex plier wrenches.

Snap On 1/4" drive "flex" sockets (the ones with a universal joint), very high quality torque wrenches, and extensions and adapters 1/4" to 3/8" and back.
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Re: Things to keep in mind as an apprentice?

#21 Post by ohoh » Tue Jun 21, 2016 12:09 pm

As for torque wrenches, AMO's will have controlled calibrated / tested equipment you should be using. Check with your supervisor about even having calibrated equipment of your own in your toolbox. Some outfits are OK with it and will pay to keep the calibration tests current on your personal equipment. Others will ask you to leave specialty tools at home and use the shops equipment.
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Re: Things to keep in mind as an apprentice?

#22 Post by Greg87 » Fri Jun 24, 2016 10:34 am

With regards to tools, my personal experience was that everything I had to get through college, was enough to get me started on the job. If I didn't have something, I'd seek out someone in the hangar who did have a suitable tool, and borrow it, once. The collection of tools I have is modest compared to what others have, but I have everything I need for the aircraft I've worked on. Most of the tools I use every day fit into a hard plastic roller box, and I can do a surprising amount of work using just what is there.

The suggestion that at least one other made about finding the right mentors is an important one. Pay attention to people's attitudes and their skill. There may be people that are very quiet, have zero social skills and can be difficult to talk to, yet once you work with them you realize they are among the smartest in the hangar, and you can learn a lot from them. You'll find others that can talk at great lengths about how wonderful they are, how terrible the company is, what a piece of garbage the plane is, every job they've ever done.... eventually you realize that talk is what they are best at, and while they may entertain you, you wont learn much of value from them.

The most valuable lesson I was ever taught was given to me before I even started college. You are always learning, even when you get your AME license, it is a license to learn. Never assume you know everything, and take every chance you can to develop personally and professionally. Seek out training, seek out the difficult jobs, do them over and over again until you can do them in your sleep. Read through the manual, go to the sections that everyone skips past, there is lot of interesting information out there. Some day you may be able to pull that information out of your brain and have the answer when nobody else does. I've heard from several people that the most frustrating thing they've run into with an apprentice is someone that thinks they know it all already.

Keep an open mind, and have fun. I graduated in '09, so I'm still relatively new, but I love it, I've worked in some interesting places with different companies, and I have had great experiences. I've worked for airlines, and overseas operator, and currently for a parts manufacturer/eventual component shop (long story) and I've had fun every step of the way. (PS: I left all jobs voluntarily and on good terms, have not been laid off, even though it was threatened on day 1 at my first maintenance job, where I worked for 3 years.)

If you enjoy it, don't let the nay sayers get you down. If you don't enjoy it, get out before you are in too deep.
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Re: Things to keep in mind as an apprentice?

#23 Post by PilotDAR » Fri Jun 24, 2016 10:47 am

Greg's advice is excellent!
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Re: Things to keep in mind as an apprentice?

#24 Post by 212wrench » Sun Jun 26, 2016 7:11 pm

casey wrote:Excellent posts
All the above should be required reading on the last day of classes
We are getting them to read this thread on the first day of class
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