According to Rock Valley College (RVC), there will be 584,000 new aviation maintenance technicians needed to maintain the world fleet over the next 20 years.
Women of Today’s Manufacturing (WOTM) president, Jaclyn Kolodziej, sits down with mother-daughter duo, Rebecca and Hannah Hines about their experience in the RVC Aviation Maintenance Technology Program.
“I was a stay-at-home mom for two decades, and I was thinking about timing and how the nest was going to be empty soon and I had nothing to do,” says Rebecca. “I saw that the Rockford airport was expanding, so I looked to see what jobs they had to offer and I applied to the RVC program without telling anyone. It was just a good fit for me, and from day one I just wanted to turn wrenches and make money.”
As Rebecca got more involved with the program she started taking her daughter, Hannah, to some of the aviation events.
“I don’t remember exactly when I started to fall in love with aviation, but seeing what I saw at the events and how engaged the women were really got me interested,” says Hannah.
Women in the Aviation Industry
Both Hannah and Rebecca agree that the industry needs more women representation.
“In aviation maintenance, only three percent of the workforce are women, and in women pilots it’s only 7 percent,” explains Rebecca. “Females in our program at RVC are still in single digits. We need more women in the program.”
Women struggling with what they want to do as a career can attend a Women of Aviation conference. The event is three days of women lifting each other up through seminars, workshops, and networking.
“There is such positive energy and so many connections you make that last,” says Rebecca.
Educational Pathways Leading to Career Pathways
The aviation program at RVC offers learning experiences in both lab instruction and classroom environments. Students learn about materials and processes, aircraft drawing, fuel, lubrication systems, ignition systems, propeller systems, assembly and rigging, and more.
“The program is inexpensive compared to others that are available in the region,” claims Rebecca, “It provides you with the skills and certifications that can get you hired right away, so you’re cash positive right out of the gate. There’s a shortage in talent, so let’s fill those available positions with women.”
The program is certified to provide approved instruction leading to FAA Airframe and Powerplant certificate examinations. Currently, 2,000 hours of instruction are offered in the areas of airframe and powerplant, which translates to 11 months of instruction in each year of the two-year program.
Graduates of the aviation program have also found work in other areas, including welding, sheet metal fabrication, pneumatics and hydraulics, and electrical engineering.
For more information on the available courses of the Aviation Program, visit rockvalleycollege.edu.
To learn more about RVC’s partnership with the AAR, visit the AAR EAGLE Career Pathway Program page.