Once upon a time, there was a community college student who dreamed of late nights playing his music to a screaming audience.

Hofer runs his own company, Aerohoff Inspection Services.

Hofer now runs his own company, Aerohoff Inspection Services.

Jim Hofer’s true passion while he was taking classes at Moraine Valley was to be a rock star traveling the world playing his guitar. One could say Hofer did meet that goal, but in a slightly different way. His stage is the sky. His instrument is a laser or a scanner. When he talks about pitch, he’s referring to a plane’s nose, and the tune that’s truly music to his ears is the humming of an aircraft given the nod for take-off, the whooshing of a wind turbine, or the engine of a race car getting ready to cross the finish line.

Hofer enrolled in the nondestructive testing (NDT) program at Moraine Valley and found that while he still had a passion for the life of a rock star, he was becoming extremely interested in NDT. While at Moraine Valley, he networked with students from Lewis University who were focusing their efforts on aircraft and that enticed him to go on and earn a bachelor’s degree in aviation management nondestructive evaluation at Lewis.

“Before I even graduated (from Lewis), I was being flown first-class around the United States for job interviews. I chose to work in Long Beach, California, for McDonnell Douglas on the aging aircraft program,” Hofer said. “One year and one bad economy later, I started working in the power plant industry due to a lay-off.” But soon he was back in aerospace working on the B-2 Bomber at Northrop and then moved back to McDonnell Douglas and Boeing. “When I returned with all the experience I attained from the power plant industry and working composites, I found I had more experience than many senior engineers working their entire career at one company,” Hofer said. “This catapulted my career to many projects, such as the DC-9/MD-80 focal engineer, space shuttle Columbia accident investigation, and the lead NDT Boeing engineer for the B-1 Bomber.”

He runs his own company, Aerohoff Inspection Services, checking aircraft, ships, weldments and other types of machines to be sure they are operating safely and at industry standards.

A few years back during a major inspection on the B-1 Bomber, a mechanic at the Air Force base was telling Hofer about some of his management issues. “He said to me that I don’t see the local problems because I fly in, do my job and I fly out. He said, ‘Jim, you’re like a rock star.’ It was at that very moment that I realized I have achieved my dream. I’m up at 3 a.m., except it’s to go to work; I have traveled the world in a first-class cabin, and I truly enjoy my work.”

Hofer said he is loving his career and credits Moraine Valley with getting him engaged in this field. “Moraine Valley gave me the skills I needed to get started and it was the connection I made with the NDT instructors that gave me a sense of not only the educational background, but I felt they were on my side for success,” Hofer said.
“It’s unbelievable what you can achieve when you have goals and a vision. Even if everything doesn’t go as planned, with a positive attitude one day you can look back and find you’ve made some amazing contributions in your lifetime.”.