Myrtle Beach Branch Campus, SC
Program: Aviation Maintenance Technology (AMT)
Employment: Maintenance Service Representative, Panasonic Avionics
As Aimee Berberena prepared to complete her Associate in Arts degree from Horry Georgetown Technical College in 2011, she knew she wanted to continue her education. After noticing a flyer pinned on a billboard for PIA’s Aviation Maintenance program, Aimee decided to go meet with her academic counselor. They told her that after two classes at HGTC, she could move on to pursue her certificate from PIA in Aviation Maintenance Technology.
“I knew I was mechanically inclined,” says Berberena, “If I could watch a YouTube video and change my brake pads, well what else can I learn to do on my car?”
After meeting with an admissions representative and touring the campus, Aimee was hooked. “After watching the intro video, I thought ‘WOW I could do that. That seems amazing. Everybody can say they are a car mechanic, but can they say they are an aircraft mechanic?’”
Starting with an introduction to carburetors, to eventually taking apart and rebuilding a 6-cylinder engine, the 16-month program at PIA taught Aimee the skills necessary to earn her FAA Airframe & Powerplant Certification. “Everything you learn is important. One class doesn’t hold weight over the other; they all rely on one another.”
Safety in the field of aviation is something that Aimee quickly learned was of utmost importance to her in her education. “It’s my job to make sure the people who are flying are safe. It’s people’s lives.”
Upon graduation, she was offered a position with Kalitta Air at an FAA approved Part 145 repair station. It was the lure of the hangar and the hands-on experience that she would earn that ultimately led to her accepting the position. “They were taking entry-level mechanics and would put them out on the field. It was mostly field-learning and on the job training instead of computer based training.” The work in the Kalitta hangar allowed Aimee to assemble and perform maintenance on aircraft, from DC10 tankers to Boeing 737s.
That experience eventually led Aimee to pursue a career change, accepting a job with Panasonic Avionics. Now she performs maintenance on the entertainment systems on aircraft. Primarily working on United and American aircraft, Aimee is responsible for uploading the latest movie releases for passengers to enjoy on their flights. She also installs the televisions, headsets, Wi-Fi systems and antennas on board these digital age planes.
“[My favorite part of the job] is the fact that I can go on the field, and the guys are willing to help you out. I get to go on the aircraft at O’Hare [airport] and go onto the airfield.”
Aimee continues to see a future for herself in aviation, and has encouraging words for those interested in pursuing it as well. “Aviation is the way of tomorrow. We aren’t going anywhere without flying. You can’t have the world today without aviation.”