Building the Future of Spaceflight

What I learned at PIA has definitely helped me begin my career as an aerospace technician on the right footing.
Elizabeth Householder
Youngstown Campus, OH

Aviation Maintenance Technology (AMT)

SpaceX, Raptor Final Integration Technician

Growing up, Elizabeth Householder was always interested in how machines worked, but she didn’t turn that curiosity into a career until she came face-to-face with a piece of aerospace history.

“When I was 26 and working as a lube tech in the automotive industry, I visited Kennedy Space Center and saw an RS-25 right in front of me. I was captivated. I needed to know how it worked and why it was built this way, so I decided then and there that this was the career I wanted.”

The Aerojet Rocketdyne RS-25 is a liquid-fuel cryogenic rocket engine that was used as the main engine on NASA’s Space Shuttle, which makes it a very fitting inspiration for Householder’s future career.

After graduating from PIA Youngstown in August of 2021, Householder accepted a job at SpaceX in California, where she now works as a technician on the Raptor methane engine for the company’s new rocket launch platform, Starship. Her role involves assembling engine components and then running system checks for hydraulics, electrical, and other integral functions.

“The first time one of my engines was tested on the test stand, witnessing the absolute power of an engine I helped create was extraordinarily humbling and motivating at the same time,” says Householder. “What I learned at PIA has definitely helped me begin my career as an aerospace technician on the right footing. I use my avionics and powerplant training daily, and I am so grateful for all the amazing advice and tutelage from my instructors.”

Aerospace is a constantly evolving field, and Householder says technicians must be flexible and patient with their work, as well as with the engineers, management, and fellow techs who work with them.

“If you want to stand out, focus on becoming efficient at any task and always look for process improvements,” says Householder. “Also, your fellow techs will be a huge source of knowledge that you’ll need if you’re going to succeed in this field. They are the true assets of any company.”



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