TSTC Aircraft Airframe Technology student Julia Farris stands next to a 1959 Cessna 175B aircraft.

(HARLINGEN, Texas) – Women have clearly shown themselves to possess exceptional talent in technical careers, including in aviation maintenance.

Julia Farris, of Hidalgo, is one of those aspiring women.

Her perseverance recently led to an achievement in which she earned an Aircraft Powerplant Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) license after she completed TSTC’s Aircraft Powerplant Technology core courses.

“I obtained that license on my birthday in Houston,” Farris said. “I’m currently in the first semester of the Aircraft Airframe Technology program, and I’m taking those core courses. I will test for the Aircraft Airframe FAA license after I complete them. Then my goal is to finish my academic core courses and earn both Aircraft Powerplant Technology and Aircraft Airframe Technology Associate of Applied Science degrees.”

The FAA’s Aviation Mechanic certificate has two ratings: the Airframe (A) and the Powerplant (P). If a person decides to seek both, it is known as an A&P certificate. It is received upon the successful completion of written, oral and practical tests.

Leo Guajardo, TSTC’s Aviation Maintenance program director in Harlingen, said Farris’ accomplishment is a great one both for Farris and the program.

“There have been female students in this program, but Julia is the first one who has achieved an FAA license since I entered the program as a TSTC employee 11 years ago,” he said.

Farris’ interest in aviation was first sparked through her father.

“My father used to be a flight paramedic when I was young,” she said. “One day he took my brother and me to his work and showed us what his job involved. We went outside to watch the helicopter take off. I remember instantly thinking how all the gears in the engine worked together after another paramedic turned on the ignition.”

Her curiosity about mechanical maintenance began in high school.

“I was working on a class assignment, and I had to sharpen my pencil,” she said. “My teacher had an electric pencil sharpener, and I didn’t know it wasn’t working. I asked if I could take it home to fix it. There was an item that was stuck between a gear. I fixed it using a Phillips screwdriver and a pair of pliers.”

After Farris graduated, a friend suggested TSTC. She performed an online search and discovered TSTC’s Aviation Maintenance program.

“I noticed the classes dealt with mechanics, and I was hooked,” she said.

Farris said her dream job is to get hired as an entry-level mechanic for a major airline.

According to onetonline.org, aircraft mechanics and service technicians can earn around $66,710 a year. The website projected that there would be a 16% increase in the number of such jobs in the state from 2020 to 2030.

TSTC offers Associate of Applied Science degrees and certificates of completion in both Aircraft Airframe Technology and Aircraft Powerplant Technology at its Abilene, Harlingen and Waco campuses.

For more information about TSTC, visit tstc.edu.

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