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Wed, Feb 21, 2007

Aviation Maintenance Mentoring Program To Begin Trial Run

KSU Program Caters Specifically To Women

by ANN Correspondent Aleta Vinas

With a Bachelor of Science degree in Aviation Maintenance Technology from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University... a Master of Science degree in Aviation Management and Aviation Safety from an ERAU extended campus... four years as a Marine avionics mechanic... and more than 14 years as a mechanic for United Airlines, Raylene Alexander is eminently qualified to start an Airframe & Powerplant (A&P) Mentorship Program for women.

Alexander (right) teaches at Kansas State, where after two years in the making her program is ready to start the "pilot" stage for one semester, with the support of KSU. "We’ll start small and then we’ll build." Alexander promised.

Keeping the initial run small will allow for evaluation and revision by Alexander and her advisory board, Karen Sullivan, Kelly McNamara, Mary Alice Rice and Rebekah Lawrence. The hope is to open the improved (if necessary) program to other schools in the fall of 2007.

Mentor and mentee each have detailed questionnaires to complete. They must also meet a large list of qualifications before being approved. This is to allow for creating the best match based on career goals, common interests and hopefully geographic proximity.

One of the primary points of the extensive Mission Statement is, "the Women A&P Mentoring Program is designed to help women A&P students to successfully move into the aviation field."

Alexander noticed many students "had anxiety about the real world versus school." Additionally, she was concerned about the high drop out rate of the women in the maintenance program. With mentorship, perhaps these concerns could be turned around.

In addition to helping the students into the real world, the program seeks to teach networking skills, build sponsorships to allow students to attend events like Women in Aviation Conferences, and offer scholarships or help locate available scholarships and grants. Alexander realizes the importance of attending shows like WAI and networking.

Alexander didn’t attend her first WAI conference until after she had been with United Airlines for 10 years. To make things worse, she knew nothing about networking. Alexander lamented "I had to call my mother and get advice from her because I had never networked before in my life."

Alexander has a solid plan which she hopes will lead to success but no so rigid that change is disallowed. Much of her future success, after the pilot phase, will be dependent upon female A&P’s contacting Alexander to become a mentor.

FMI: www.awam.org

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