(HARLINGEN, Texas) – Pilots get planes off the ground, but skilled technicians ensure that planes are safe to fly.
Texas State Technical College student Juliana Perez, of Brownsville, is training to be one of those technicians.
She is proud of her decision to enroll in the Aircraft Powerplant Technology program at TSTC.
She also is expanding her knowledge with a part-time paid internship at Southmost Aviation Inc. in Brownsville.
The fourth-semester student said the TSTC program has enabled her to learn about tools and other areas in an enticing industry.
“When I grew up, I was not introduced to tools,” she said. “I love to learn new things, and this is something I was excited about.”
Perez credits her TSTC instructor’s influence as great motivation.
“Our instructor, (Leo) Guajardo, is very passionate,” she said. “His explanation about engine systems and other areas is very exciting.”
Perez’s internship at Southmost Aviation provides real-world learning opportunities about fixed-base operation, aircraft maintenance, administrative duties and customer service.
“I have been taught about the correct fuel to use for different planes,” she said. “I have performed aircraft marshaling. I learned how to use a tug to tow the aircraft into a hangar area. I also assist with administrative duties and anything else, as needed.”
Ben Douglas, general manager for Southmost Aviation, said he is impressed with Perez’s work ethic.
“She has excellent administrative and customer service skills,” he said.
Perez grasps concepts quickly and demonstrates an eagerness to learn, according to Jon Douglas, director of maintenance for Southmost Aviation.
“I taught her how to refuel a King Air turbine passenger aircraft,” he said. “I only had to teach it one time, and she handled it very well. She enjoys learning different processes. It is important that a mechanic knows how to interact with an aircraft and possesses knowledge of ground service, as well, to be successful.”
Upon completion of her Associate of Applied Science degree this December, Perez will pursue a second associate degree from TSTC, this time in Aircraft Airframe Technology.
In Texas, aircraft mechanics and service technicians can earn an average of $66,260 per year, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The projected growth for this job in the state is more than 8% through 2028, onetonline.org states.
Registration for the spring semester is underway. For more information, visit tstc.edu.