Youngstown Branch Campus, OH
Program: Aviation Maintenance Technology (AMT)
Employment: Constant Aviation, LLC, Assistant Chief Inspector
Female mechanics may still be a rarity in the aviation industry, but PIA alumna Melissa Markell is proof that those numbers are on the rise. Partly inspired by her father, a former Air Force jet mechanic, Melissa graduated from PIA’s Youngstown Campus with her A&P certification.
Melissa had struggled with poor grades in high school because she felt uninterested and disengaged, but she proudly reports that her time at PIA was the exact opposite.
“At PIA, I made the Dean’s List every semester,” says Melissa. “I’m a visual learner, and I need to be able to ask questions and find out exactly why something works the way it does. I’m so grateful for teachers like Mr. Ogle, Mr. Rupula, and Mr. Strock, because I was so engaged and I loved coming to class. I adored my PIA experience— it was so much better than high school.”
Since graduating from PIA, Melissa has quickly worked her way up through the industry, earning a wide array of experience through a series of promotions. “I went from being a Line mx to a Heavy mx, then running A-checks, an OSR (on-site rep), a Maintenance Controller, a Core Inspector, and I’m now an Assistant Chief Inspector.”
Today, Melissa works at Constant Aviation, where she manages the Quality Department at the company’s Cuyahoga County base. Melissa oversees a variety of quality assurance checks, inspections, and audits, as well as managing the workflow for her department.
“I make sure all the aircraft work is prioritized correctly, and I step in to help whenever our mechanics’ workload gets too high,” says Melissa. “It’s a thrill every day, because I never know what new challenge I’m going to encounter. I love the constant change, and I also love the feeling of being needed. Every morning I can’t wait to unravel the next puzzle!”
According to the Federal Aviation Administration’s 2018 data, only 3.4% of all airplane mechanics in the United States identify as female. But with 7% of PIA’s students identifying as female, the number of women in the industry like Melissa Markell will keep rising over the next decade.
Melissa also has a word of advice for anyone considering a job in aviation: “The aviation industry is small, which means everyone knows everyone, and people remember how you handle problems when they come up. So don’t burn your bridges, don’t sell your integrity, and treat everyone with respect, no matter what.”