Pittsburgh Branch Campus, MD
Program: Aviation Maintenance Technology (AMT)
Employment: LJ Aviation, Maintenance Technician
Like many high school students, Ryan Knupp was unsure about his path after high school. “I couldn’t find anything I was interested in. I was good at math, and I was looking into accounting or something in that field,” said Knupp. Seeing a presentation about PIA in one of his classes sparked an interest in a hands-on career that he hadn’t considered before.
“[Having a career in aviation] wasn’t a lifelong dream. I had just tinkered around the house, nothing professional like this. I tried a few terms and ended up really liking it.” Much like the question of what to study, where to study was a question that Knupp faced as well. “[PIA] made more sense than going to a four year college. It was cheaper and job prospects appeared much higher than your typical college. All of my friends can’t find jobs now, and they spent all that time and money [on a four-year education].”
Touring the school further solidified Knupp’s interest in PIA, remembering that “the number of engines and planes was impressive.” He started in the first available class after graduating high school and completed his Associate in Specialized Technology Degree in Aviation Maintenance Technology and obtained his A&P Certification. Upon graduating, Knupp was hired at LJ Aviation, where he still works today. “[LJ Aviation] was my first job. I knew some of the workers and knew they were hiring, so I put in an application. The company ended up coming to PIA to do interviews also, so I ended up doing two interviews and as well as visiting the Latrobe, PA location, where I got the job.”
At LJ Aviation, Knupp enjoys the variety he experiences on a daily basis. “It’s not the same thing every day. It’s always different and I am constantly learning something. But we regularly fix discrepancies that pilots come up with after their trips and do scheduled inspections.” The daily change doesn’t faze Knupp, and he credits PIA with his assurance in his craft. “[PIA] gave me the confidence to go in and fix things on my own without having to be led.”
With hopes of continuing to advance his career and move into a lead position, Knupp is an example of someone who ultimately found his passion in the field of aviation. His advice to others, however, is that the aviation industry isn’t your only option.
“Give it a shot. Even if you don’t end up liking aviation, there are so many job opportunities. I have friends in different fields that went to PIA, and everyone enjoys what they do. Some do non-destructive testing, some work for Bettis Atomic Power Laboratory for the Navy, and some work at Gulfstream or with helicopters at Stat MedEvac.”