Pittsburgh Campus, PA
Program: Aviation Maintenance Technology (AMT)
Employment: HX5 Sierra, Research Lab Mechanic
Kelly Martin grew up with airplanes on her mind. Her childhood love of aviation inspired her to become one of the 7% of female students at the Pittsburgh Institute of Aeronautics (PIA).
“Aviation has always been a big interest in my life,” Martin recalls. “My dad was a pilot, so when we were kids, we would go up with him often.” Spending so much of her childhood in the sky motivated Kelly to obtain her own pilot’s license. But her growing interest in problem-solving eventually led her aviation career away from the cockpit and into the hangar.
“I had taken a few base courses in mechanics and electronics in college, and I found that I was really interested in it,” says Martin. “I also knew that there were a lot of job opportunities for skilled mechanics in the aviation and aeronautics industry, so that kind of job security and opportunity for advancement was really appealing.”
Martin earned her Aviation Maintenance Technology (AMT) degree from PIA’s Pittsburgh campus in 2019. She loved her hands-on training in projects like sheet metal fabrication, where the solution to a problem depends as much on accurate math as it does on mistake-free execution. But despite her passion for all things mechanical, Martin says her most valuable lessons at PIA actually had less to do with engineering or physics than they did with people.
“I’d say the most important lesson I learned at PIA was how to work in teams with people who have a different mindset than you do,” Kelly explains. “Because anywhere you get a job, that’s how it’s going to be: you’re going to have to work with people who think differently than you do, and who go about things in a different way than you do.”
Martin’s focus on teamwork and her sharp attention to detail helped her land a job as a Research Lab Mechanic at HX5 Sierra, which provides engineering, research & development, and technical services to support the needs of the U.S. Army, Navy, Air Force, NASA, and the General Services Administration. Companies like HX5 are always looking for new mechanics who share Kelly’s enthusiasm for creative problem-solving and exploring new technologies.
“One of the best things about PIA is the number of great opportunities they provide for students,” says Martin. “The aerospace maintenance competition (AMC Day) was a huge opportunity for me to compete with a lot of my peers, and to meet a lot of interesting people from a number of companies who are actively hiring in the field. There are so many jobs available in aviation right now, and such a huge deficit of pilots and mechanics. For a well-trained and capable mechanic, the field really is wide open.”
Watch Martin’s testimonial video > https://bit.ly/PIA-Martin