Today, on March 12, 2022, Stacey Rudser was named the 33rd recipient of the AeroTime Aviation Achievement Award as part of AeroTime’s Women in Aviation Campaign.
Stacey was interviewed by the AeroTime team in July 2021 as part of our ‘Women in Aviation’ campaign. During the interview Stacey shared her career experiences in the aviation maintenance sector and her work to encourage, inspire and introduce young girls and women to aviation maintenance.
Stacey is a full-time maintenance technician and director at the Association for Women in Aviation Maintenance, (AWAM). AWAM is a nonprofit organization that champions women’s professional growth and enrichment in the aviation maintenance fields by providing opportunities for information-sharing and networking, education, fostering a sense of community and increasing public awareness of women in the industry.
In last year’s interview with AeroTime, Stacey said: “It’s 2021 [and we’re] not seeing [many] people pursue a maintenance career path, whether it’s aviation or otherwise. Many options out there that are maybe easier work or air-conditioned. If you go into IT, you’re probably not out in the heat, you’re probably not out in the snow and you may not be working at night.
She adds: “Aviation maintenance is not the most appealing career path, if you put it on paper, but it can be one of the most fulfilling.”
An integral part of Stacey’s work involves engaging younger generations and women to pursue aviation maintenance as a career. Through AWAM and her involvement on several advisory bodies, including the FAA Women in Aviation Advisory Board, Stacey uses her platform to address the various obstacles faced by women in the industry and to help expose those interested in a career in aviation, particularly women and younger people, to the many different sectors within the aviation industry.
She said: “In maintenance, the challenges that women face are a little more specific because we are such an underrepresented group. Less than 3% of aviation maintenance technicians are women, so, when you walk in, there is a lot of proving yourself that you have to do. But men don’t necessarily go through [these challenges].”
For Stacey, who does not come from an aviation background, it took some time for her to realize that maintenance was a passion that she would continue to pursue.
She adds: “I knew some things I didn’t want to do, but the more I researched aviation maintenance, the more I realized that was going to be a really good fit for my personality [and my] passion.”
As Stacey began to network and attend international conferences, which broadened her view of the industry, her career began to progress. She won an AWAM scholarship for UPS Airlines 767 maintenance training. As part of the scholarship, she was also invited to visit Women in Aviation International (WAI), where she met the leadership and volunteers of AWAM, a non-profit organization dedicated to the encouragement and advancement of women in all aviation career fields and interests. Soon, she decided to become more involved with the organization.
In the early stages, her work with AWAM focused on outreach programs aimed at engaging younger generations.
She says: “I think outreach was so important to me because you only see aircraft mechanics, on a bad day, right? You don’t want to see us come on your plane. By nature, we are supposed to be invisible.”
She explains: “So, with outreach, I wanted to bring that visibility. Little kids say that they want to be pilots. They see them, they interact with them. It’s a cool job. But I wanted little kids to get that chance to learn about how aircraft work and learn that the career even exists. When you talk to kids [at] elementary age, they have those experiences that stay with them [and] they may not choose the career path. But at the very least, they understand that it’s an interesting option that they can pursue for their future.”
Presenting Stacey with the award, Richard Stephenson, Chief Executive and Editor in Chief of AeroTime, said: “From an early age, Stacey was drawn to a career in engineering. Since then she has become a lifelong advocate for the industry and a touch bearer for future generations of women entering the maintenance profession. She is passionate about supporting others both already in the industry and those who will follow in the future. We wanted to recognize Stacey’s dedication to promoting careers in aviation maintenance and her devotion to the next generation.”
You can watch the full interview with Stacey here:
Stacey Rudser citation:
In recognition of her dedication and commitment to the aviation industry, for her focus on promoting diversity and inclusion in the aviation maintenance sector, for her encouragement and support of women and the next generation to pursue aviation maintenance careers and to join the aviation industry through AWAM. The AeroTime Global Executive Committee recognises the positive influence of these efforts and the significance of their impact on the aviation industry and its people, both today and into the future.