Starliner electrical technician Maria Garcia beams with pride when she talks about her three daughters, who have followed in her footsteps in the aerospace field.
Every year that her children were in elementary and high school, Garcia participated in the National Take Your Child to Work Day while working on satellites in El Segundo, California, so they could see up close the important work she was doing.
“They saw how much I liked my job and they chose the same path,” Garcia said. “I’m a proud mom.”
Two work as electrical technicians, similar to their mom, at other companies in California. Another is an aircraft maintenance technician. “At a very young age, our mom opened our eyes to aerospace and all its excitement,” said her youngest, Maribel Arevalo, the aircraft maintenance technician.
Salina Arevalo, who is an electronic assembly technician, previously worked for Boeing in El Segundo in 2014 and 2015. She remembers her mom buying her a soldering kit and teaching her how to solder in their garage. “I’m lucky my mom showed me this skill. If it wasn’t for her, I have no idea where I would be,” she said.
They each said that their mom taught them the importance of hard work and that she always put them first, guiding and motivating them.
“I’ve seen my mom in action and she’s been an inspiration. She loves what she does and works very hard,” her oldest, Sylvia Arevalo, said. “She’s definitely someone who is passionate about what she does, which is something I’m happy to have witnessed.”
Garcia has been working for Boeing since 1998, mainly on satellites in El Segundo, and she’s been helping on the CST-100 Starliner program in Florida since 2017. For the past two years, she has been living in Florida and taking trips to California when she can to see her daughters and parents.
She’s one of seven teammates from El Segundo working on the Starliner program. Garcia has had her hands on all three Starliner spacecraft, including both the crew module and service module, splicing, securing and connecting wiring, as well as routing and installing harnesses. She also assists with testing and troubleshooting when needed.
“I really like what I do and it’s interesting,” Garcia said. “I take pride in my work and it’s a great team. Everybody works together from the engineers to the people in logistics who get the parts. Everyone is so helpful and you get so much support from the managers.”
Garcia, who moved to California when she was a baby from Mexico, may return to the West Coast at the end of the year to begin assembling, wiring, soldering and mating solar wings onto satellites. She got her start in the aerospace field after first working in food service at theme parks in California. She drove from company to company in an industrial area dropping off resumes to try to get a technician job. She had some soldering experience and was hired by Spectrolab, a Boeing subsidiary in Sylmar, California, where she received additional training on soldering wires and components on the backside of solar panels.
“I was a single mom and ambitious to work. I printed out a stack of resumes and picked a street,” she said. “I was in the right place at the right time.”
She was in the right place again when she had the opportunity to work on the Starliner program. She jumped at the opportunity to help and be a part of history, though it meant being away from her daughters.
Meanwhile, she’s enjoyed being in Florida and seeing launches at Kennedy Space Center, including the Orbital Flight Test last year. She looks forward to the second test in the coming months.
“I got very emotional when we launched last year,” Garcia said. “What we are building is a part of history. Sometimes when you are working and you are so busy, you forget that for a moment. But then you stand back and take pride in seeing what you’ve accomplished.”