“Avionics is a puzzle,” says Everett Community College’s Advanced Avionics instructor Raylene Alexander. “I tell students every day is going to be different. It’s where the fun is.”
“Avionics Technicians are specialists who repair, maintain and troubleshoot anything that has a wire to it. It can range from a complicated autoland system to a passenger reading light.” Raylene, a tenured faculty member, teaches students in two quarters how to research an aircraft maintenance issue, troubleshoot it and repair it.
Raylene, a Washington native, started her career in the Marine Corps. ” The Navy had a one year wait for an Avionics Technician slot and the Marine Corps said they had openings next week, so I said, ‘let’s go!'”
After her honorable discharge, Raylene completed her BS in Aviation Maintenance before being hired by United Airlines. “I got hired the day of the 1989 San Francisco earthquake. It took weeks to find out if I had a job.” Over a dozen years she worked on the United flight line, repairing different airplanes and assessing problems in a fast-paced environment.
After September 11th, in the wake of an industry slowdown and low morale, Raylene moved to education. “I realized I enjoyed training new hires.” From North central Institute to Embry Riddle Aeronautical University to Kansas State University to Everett, Raylene has trained avionics technicians hired by airlines, Boeing, Duncan, GA and companies as diverse as Blue Origin and Day Wireless.
What makes a good avionics technician? “You don’t need to know every part of the aircraft,” says Raylene. “But you need to know how to research, troubleshoot, and find answers. That’s what a successful avionics tech does.”