A photo of Vicenzo Lombardo, a beard man wearing a hat against a green background.

How An SDI Grad Used a Flexible Education To His Advantage

  • Joey Upper

A Family Hobby Becomes a Passion Project

Vicenzo Lombardo has been helping his family with their firearms for years. When he found in Sonoran Desert Institute a chance to make that passion that occupied a small portion of his bigger picture into something much more prominent, he leapt at it.

For Lombardo, the ability to transfer some course credits from previous schooling was the foot in the door he needed to get involved with SDI.

“I really liked learning the history behind all of these guns,”

“I was at a gun show, and I was approached by one of the (field representatives) over here at the Crossroads of the West Gun Show. He asked, ‘Do you want to go to gunsmithing school?’ and I’m like, ‘That sounds cool!’ He explained how I could have transfer credit from some of my other schooling, and I was like, ‘Cool. Let’s do it!’”

It was kismet! Lombardo launched himself into his studies and found that he had passions for both hands-on work and academia.

“Probably building the AR-10. I like the platform – it’s a fun platform. Better yet, a lot of the history you get to learn behind these (firearms). Especially the AR platform, the other platforms that we deal with, like the revolvers. … I really liked learning the history behind all of these guns,” Lombardo said. “It’s actually sparked a whole other thing where I go and do research on other firearms platforms and learn about (them).”

A formal education in firearms technology not only nurtured his passion for firearms, but it also sparked a love for firearms history that he may not have known he had.

Turning an Education into an Opportunity

As a graduate of SDI, Lombardo has both a fulfilling career outside of the gun industry and a gunsmithing business that is already running a profit!

“I moonlight as a gunsmith. I run a gunsmithing business out of my house now. It’s actually profitable this year already, and I’m getting plenty of business. I can’t complain – I’ve actually got a two-week backlog. … It’s providing a secondary source of income, and eventually, once I retire from my primary career, it will be my retirement income as well.”

To those who might find themselves interested in pursuing a formal education in firearms technology with SDI, he was unequivocal:

“Just do it! It’s fun!” he said. “The program is all online; it works with your schedule. You can work on it when you have time, so for people who work multiple jobs, like I was, it’s not as much (of) an issue as it could be.”

Of course, SDI does maintain deadlines and standards for its students, but it does boast more flexibility than many other schools, often enough to help students balance their other obligations. We’re thrilled when that is the case!

Vincenzo Lombardo is a 2018 SDI graduate.