Installing air traffic control systems and equipment at the Seattle TRACON and Tower was a rewarding experience in team work, applying knowledge and learning new skills. I was the lone woman on a team of eight for 14 months from July 2013 through August 2014. This job was a great opportunity for my personal and professional growth as an electronic tech as a contractor for Lockheed Martin.
My IT experience included an Associates degree in Electronic Technology and three and a half years in the field at the Denver International Airport as an electronic technician. The aviation industry was male dominated then and still has that reputation. Despite the odds, I never felt that my gender was an obstacle at the Seattle TRACON or Tower. I predominately worked at the TRACON. Physically, it was obvious I was the only woman on the team, and for months, the only woman in the building. It was never an issue.
I had the knowledge to perform the job and was eager to learn more skills. The members of my team taught me how to install cables, wiring techniques and expanded my electronic knowledge. The men I worked with were trained as electronic technicians in the military and had years of hands on experience. They treated me as an equal on the team. I was teased a few times, nothing negative.
The first day of this project, I saw rows of empty steel cabinets at the Seattle TRACON and Tower. A year later both facilities were fully operational. I was asked to continue for three more months to work on demolishing the former SeaTAC Air Traffic Control Tower that was damaged in the Nisqually earthquake. That was a dirty job.
There were toughs days, slow days and hectic days. Some days, I did feel challenged. Crawling under the floor, wiring all day long, or feeling physically exhausted from testing equipment for ten hours. Overall, I was grateful to have a job that paid well, had an amazing boss and team, and was proud of the work we achieved from an sparse building to an operational aviation facility.
From a meeting room in my current job, I can see the Seattle Tower. It still stands on the horizon, thank goodness. I smile every time.