Lexie Shore First Female Grad At Aeronautics School
A Hustontown woman will make history next month as the Pittsburgh Institute of Aeronautics’ first-ever female graduate from its Hagerstown, Md., campus.
Looking back at the last 16- months, 19-year-old Lexie Shore said she has “no regrets” in taking the leap of faith that will undoubtedly lead to a promising and fruitful career as a certified aviation maintenance technician.
A 2012 graduate of Mc- Connellsburg High School, Shore said she first learned about Pittsburgh Institute of Aeronautics (PIA) when a representative visited the school. Shore applied there as well as to the Art Institute of York where she was considering a major in interior design. Ironically, both schools accepted Shore, who received both confirmation letters the same day.
“I knew right away where I would go,” said Shore. “I have no regrets. I found what I wanted to do with my life.”
Each new PIA class has only a limited number slots. The first day of class, instructors urge the students to look around the room because not everyone would be there when graduation rolls around.
Those words definitely ring true as Shore’s class size has dwindled from 30 to 12. Shore attributes the drop in student numbers to be in direct correlation to the dedication and drive a student must possess.
Shore stated PIA’s daily coursework isn’t like ordinary college classes. Between Monday and Friday, her classes run from 8 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and require hands-on participation as well as a quick mind to understand and retain information delivered in a short time frame. Subjects ranging from hands-on training in turbine engines and metallic structures to welding and hydraulics/ pneumatics can last from several days to two weeks.
Shore said she was initially “intimidated” as the only girl in the classroom. However, she was quickly initiated as “one of the guys” and has enjoyed the “challenge” of conquering the different skills required. Only a slight mishap involving a battery during a class on electricity has given her pause.
“I have to work 10 times harder because I’ve had to work from the ground up,” Shore stated. “I didn’t have any prior knowledge of welding or anything else going into it.”
Her lone advantage over her male counterparts is her prior drafting experience through the Fulton County Area Vocational- Technical School and instructor Todd Wolford. Shore said Wolford was a “good role model,” who pushed his students toward achieving their dreams. In addition to Wolford’s guidance, perhaps none have been more influential than Shore’s mother, Cheryl (Shore) DeShong.
Shore noted her mother has always encouraged her to push herself out of her comfort zone and to try new things.
Even though she admits to missing out on some of the things a normal college life offers – doing laundry at the dorm, living on campus, decorating your room and floor parties – she remains adamant this is the direction she wants her life to take.
Looking ahead to the weeks leading to graduation on December 20 and beyond, Shore will be aiming to undergo some specialized training beyond her aviation maintenance technology diploma. The recipient of one of 35 maintenance scholarships awarded by the National Business Aviation Association, Shore is currently slated to travel to Texas between February 17 and 28 to participate in Lear 60/60XR Mx initial training.
In addition, she hopes with some assistance from PIA’s career placement advisor she can get into the field of nondestructive testing that allows for parts to be tested for damage and malfunctions. Not just limited to the field of aviation, nondestructive testing can also be used on submarines, power plants, wind turbines, railroads and in the medical field of robotics.
“This is what I want to do. It’s not a limiting profession as I have different options and different industries to chose from. Being an aviation maintenance technician is the first step to anywhere you want to go,” she said.
PIA is currently the only school in Maryland to offer the Federal Aviation Administration’s aviation maintenance technology diploma. PIA was opened by Glenn Curtiss and Orville Wright in 1927 as Curtiss Wright Flying Service and two years later was renamed PIA.