We are beyond ecstatic to see Aviation Institute of Maintenance Norfolk Student Luz Gonzalez interviewed in an Inside MRO article, “Aviation Maintenance Students On Challenges Facing Next-Gen Workforce.”
Written by Jul DeGeus
Author Lindsay Bjerregaard interviewed four students for Inside MRO, studying in the fields of aviation maintenance, repair, and operation (MRO) to learn about COVID-19 challenges and explore inclusion and diversity in the field of aviation. Below are Luz’s excerpts from the article*:
Inside MRO: How do you think the aviation industry can do a better job of both connecting with and attracting underrepresented populations to the workforce?
Luz Gonzalez: A lot of people just don’t know about the aviation industry itself. A lot of people are closed-minded [and focused on] being safe rather than sorry instead of stepping outside of their comfort zone and taking that risk to go for that career.
When someone has curiosity about the field of aviation, their first thought is to enlist in the Air Force. But if they only knew, there is another course for furthering their education in the study of aerospace. During this time, the airline industry can become better at connecting cultures through people. People don’t know [about aviation maintenance careers] unless someone tells them about the opportunity. When one works hard to create the path to give others hope, that is when the attraction of workmanship plays a big role.
What has it been like studying aviation maintenance during the COVID-19 pandemic? Have there been any unique challenges?
Gonzalez: As far as the school’s operation, they have hybrid classes, meaning some days we’re online and some days we’re in class. But [the challenge is that] mostly we need to be in class because we can’t take an engine home and study it; so we have to be in class to get that hands-on experience. Another challenge is trying to keep the mask on and the 6-ft. distance. The class size has been mostly less than 20 people. Generally, they divide class time between morning and afternoon.
The aviation industry tends to skew heavily toward a white, male workforce. From your experiences so far, has this created any challenges or barriers in pursuing your career?
Gonzalez: In the majority of my classes, I’m the only female. Being the only female, I wouldn’t say it gives me pressure; it gives me a better opportunity to try to get the best out of it. It all depends on one’s behavior and mindset.
When constructing an aircraft project, the parts of the structure come from all over the world and are sent to a manufacturer station to be put together by the engineers and mechanics. Along with the materials that arrive from other regions of the world, we have to consider not only the parts of the aircraft but also the people functioning in unity to construct it. Diversity is mandatory in all aspects of the workforce—it has a genuine competitive advantage when it comes to different people with dissimilar perspectives, viewpoints and background knowledge. We need diversity of thought, voice and mindset at the table to bring those viewpoints that one person can’t see on their own.
Do you think the aviation industry needs to embrace emerging technologies to attract younger generations to the workforce?
Gonzalez: Yes, definitely. From 2012 to 2021, there has been a dramatic change in technology. Even little kids today now use technology, so by the time they’re up in their career, technology is going to go beyond our imaginations. I truly believe that companies are moving toward more technology [and away from] paper and pencil.
During the pandemic lockdown, Gonzalez reexamined her planned career path of becoming a dentist. She came upon the opportunity to pursue aviation and decided to step out of her comfort zone to follow a new passion. She began studying at the Aviation Institute of Maintenance Norfolk in Virginia in July 2020 and plans to graduate in 2022. Post-graduation, Gonzalez wants to spend a few years working on the technical side of the industry before pursuing her pilot’s license and potentially exploring a career in the space segment.
Luz, you’ve got a bright future ahead of you. Congratulations on being featured in this article and we are looking forward to all that you will contribute to the aviation industry.
About Aviation Institute of Maintenance
Aviation Institute of Maintenance (AIM) is a network of aviation maintenance schools with campuses coast-to-coast in the United States and headquarters in Virginia Beach, Va. AIM students are trained to meet the increasing global demand of commercial, cargo, corporate and private aviation employers. AIM graduates are eligible to take the Federal Aviation Administration exams necessary to obtain their mechanic’s certificate with ratings in both Airframe and Powerplant. AIM’s campuses are in the following major metro areas: Atlanta, Charlotte, New York, Philadelphia, Dallas, Houston, Indianapolis, Las Vegas, Washington, D.C., Kansas City, San Francisco Bay, Orlando, and Norfolk. Learn more at www.AviationMaintenance.edu or like them on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/AIM.edu.
*Bjerregaard, L. (2021, April 14). Aviation Maintenance Students On Challenges Facing Next-Gen Workforce. Aviation Week Network. https://aviationweek.com/mro/workforce-training/aviation-maintenance-students-challenges-facing-next-gen-workforce