Jessica Espinoza Renz grew up close to Detroit Metro Airport, which gave her a love of aviation at an early age. She initially wanted to be a pilot, but didn’t have the means to attend college or flight school. When her high school offered dual-enrollment with the Michigan Institute of Aeronautics (later named the Michigan Institute of Aviation & Technology) at Willow Run Airport, to pursue an Airframe & Powerplant certificate, she jumped at the opportunity and never looked back.
Renz's career started in 2006 at Willow Run Airport, working to restore a fleet of Lockheed L-188 Electras. She has also worked on general aviation, corporate and other cargo aircraft before starting with Endeavor Air (then Mesaba Airlines) in 2008. At Endeavor, Renz was an AMT for eight years and Lead AMT for three years. In that time, she served as Endeavor’s Detroit Tech Ops Safety Committee Vice Chair for six years and as Endeavor’s Tech Ops ASAP Event Review Committee Employee Representative for five months, before transitioning to her current role as Tech Ops Compliance Specialist in 2019.
"In my current role, I investigate technical non-compliance to understand what went wrong and why, then use my background as a technician to effect change that is meaningful both to the company and front-line employees," she explained. "Seeing the result of the changes we’ve developed in response to our investigation findings has been incredibly rewarding, and further drives my passion to run a thorough investigation. At the end of the day, I’m trying to put myself out of work."
Additionally, Renz earned an A.S. in Aviation Maintenance from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in 2019 and is currently pursuing a B.S. in Aviation Maintenance Safety from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University and plan to graduate in May 2022.
Renz says she tries to give back to the community by offering guidance to aspiring aviation maintenance professionals. "I’m approached by young professionals surprisingly often, with questions about how I’ve gotten to where I am today and looking for guidance on what type of education may be best for their career goals," she mentioned. "I recently started a Facebook group (Students of Embry-Riddle Worldwide) to help connect Embry-Riddle Worldwide campus students from around the globe. We’re currently over 500 members strong and it’s been a great way to help others navigate their own professional journeys."
In the future, she says she would like to start a scholarship program to assist aspiring aviation professionals. "College wasn’t a topic of discussion in my household when I was growing up, because it wasn’t something my family could afford, so I’ve had to earn my degrees while working full-time," she said. "I’d love to give others an opportunity to start their career with a degree, or help others to earn their degree later in their career."
As for career goals of the future, she said, they don’t involve a specific title. "I just want the work that I do to have the maximum positive impact on aviation safety — whatever that may look like for me in the future. As my 'pie in the sky' goal, I would like to work for the NTSB," she stated.
"Jessica is motivated and passionate about aviation maintenance and aviation safety," stated Jonathan Frederickson, Manager, maintenance standards and compliance, Endeavor Air, who nominated Renz. "Many at the airline have acknowledged her dedication to the field, both internal and external to her direct department. Her enthusiasm and charisma to holding the line with respect to safety and compliance are immediately evident and unwavering."