Catherine Chelimo, AMT 2018 Next Gen 40 Under 40 Award Winner:

Sept. 20, 2018
39, Aircraft Certification Engineering Technician, Garmin International, New Century, KS Years in Aviation: 11

"As a child, math came easy to me," Catherine Chelimo says, "and I enjoyed sciences specifically physics. I was always interested in how things work so I was naturally drawn to machines. Growing up in Kenya I had minimal exposure to aviation but still fell in love with aircraft and aviation at 9 years old. My dad managed tea factories and whenever I would go to his office, I would stop by the shop where mechanics maintained and repaired trucks that collected tea from local farmers. I asked the mechanics questions about the engines and how they work. On one occasion while in the mechanics bay, a small aircraft flew by and I asked the mechanics if they thought the aircraft had a similar engine; which they obviously did not know. On that day my passion for and fascination with aviation was born, and I have never stopped looking in the sky whenever outside."

Chelimo has been fortunate to have had various mentors throughout her career, from college instructors to her current team leader Greg Finch; who all believed in and encouraged her. "In the last 11 years there have been countless exceptional technicians who have mentored me and helped become a better technician."

She graduated from the University of Central Missouri (UCM) with a bachelor of science in aviation technology with an emphasis on aircraft maintenance and earned her Airframe and Powerplant license. She went back to UCM and earned a master of science in aviation safety. She has also received training from FlightSafety International.

She started her career working as an A&P technician at Midwest Corporate Aviation, then worked for over five years at Advanced Aviation before joining Garmin International. At Garmin she has worked as an A&P IA maintaining and repairing company aircraft, as well as performing avionics installations of Garmin Flight Deck systems. She recently took the position of an aircraft certification engineering technician.

She was nominated by Gregory Finch, Garmin Aircraft Certification Team Lead: "Catherine has approximately 11 years of aviation experience and has been employed by Garmin for the last 5 years. At Garmin she has proven herself to be a valuable asset to any team that she is on. Catherine saw an opportunity to assist with avionics installations over and above her normal duties. Although Catherine had no avionics installation experience, she willingly pursued the opportunity and gave everything she had to excel in this endeavor, and did so with enthusiasm and a positive outlook. On the road to gaining the necessary experience in System Safety, Catherine is participating in a development path that includes working in several different roles that include engineering technician, electrical designer, and systems engineer with a final goal to fulfill the role of a system safety engineer. In each of these roles to date, Catherine has exceeded expectations and is grasping the concepts and technical knowledge at a very fast pace.

To give back to the industry Chelimo is getting more involved in Garmin’s STEM outreach program and this year she assisted in giving hangar tours and talking about different career opportunities in aviation to local middle and high school girls, when Garmin hosted various events for Women in Aviation week.

One of Chelimo's career goals is "to utilize my skills and knowledge in the system safety group and assist Garmin in continuing to provide safe and exceptional products to the aviation industry. Eventually, be involved in FAA rulemaking aspect."