- May 30, 2022
Students from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University have returned from Dallas, where they competed in the international Aerospace Maintenance Competition during the MRO Americas 2022 aviation conference. This was the first time the school sent an all-female team to compete.
The five women — Windermere High School graduate Shelby Quillinan, as well as Hannah Daren, Iram Rai, Vanessa Vowotor and Tea Galon — tried out for the team and were selected to participate in what has been called the Olympics for aviation maintenance.
The competition, hosted April 25 through 28 by Snap-On, involved 90 teams, 27 separate events and multiple heats. Quillinan said each participant took part in nine events ranging from tire inspection to engine blade removal.
Quillinan competed in dent inspection (sponsored by 8 Tree and Alaska Airlines), air data test (Barfield), a quick bond XR progress that used augmented reality to fasten pieces together, aircraft tire inspection (Michelin), pedestal light replacement (American Airlines), electrical troubleshooting (Daniels Manufacturing Corp.), a virtual reality paint booth, power troubleshooting (Nida Corp.) and simulated spacecraft vacuum loading (Easter Florida State).
All but one of the events were based on time.
“The maximum amount of time was 15 minutes on each one,” Quillinan said. “Whoever got it the fastest, so least amount of points, won. There were also penalties if you did something incorrectly or if you used your tools incorrectly. It was all based on team effort. All the other 18 events that my partners had to do, it was an accumulation of all our times.”
The coach isn’t saying where the team placed, but Quillinan said she thinks they came in around 10th place. The good news is four of the five are returning to Embry Riddle next year so they will have another chance to try out for the team.
“We’re ready for next year,” she said. “This was our first time going. It was a learning experience, and we are more prepared for what to expect. The first (event) I was shaking I was so nervous.”
She applied for and received the Phoebe Omlie Award, a scholarship named for the first female aircraft mechanic.
Although the team didn’t win any of the events, it did walk away with the title of Dream Team based on online voting and took second place for professionalism. The team returned to Daytona Beach with a banner to hang in the department building. Second place came with a certificate and a cash prize, and the women split $2,500.
Shelby graduated from Windermere High in 2019 and is the daughter of John and Kim Quillinan, of Winter Garden.
She is a junior at Embry-Riddle and is majoring in aviation maintenance science. She will obtain her Airframe & Powerplant certificate, which gives her Federal Aviation Administration certification to work on planes, plus her Bachelor of Science degree.
“I’ve always been like very technical and hands-on,” Quillinan said. “When I was younger I wanted to be a car mechanic. But planes are quite a bit more money.”