First Generation American Finds Success as Apprentice: Spotlight on Perla Chavez

Perla Chavez

To celebrate 86 years since the signing of the National Apprenticeship Act, Lockheed Martin is highlighting Perla, a senior technician on our team, and a graduate of the AMTAP (Advanced Manufacturing Technician Apprenticeship Program). The AMTAP program teaches apprentices how to build space flight hardware by providing a phased approach to learning with both classroom and hands-on learning opportunities at our LM Space facility in Courtland, Alabama.

Meet Perla, she was one of the two high school students to successfully pass the first Manufacturing Basic Skills for Technicians, MBS, Program that is offered to career tech schools. The MBS program was created to reach out to high school seniors that wanted to enter the workforce after high school and proceed to go through the Advanced Manufacturing Technician Apprenticeship Program, AMTAP. 

Perla is a first-generation American and the first in her family to complete higher education. In her current role, she is a senior technician working to build space software and participating in meetings to help reduce quality defects.  “I knew that the AMTAP program was a great opportunity for me and that I could not let it go to waste,” said Perla.

Perla’s passion for engineering started in high school when he participated in Robotics and Rocketry; placing 9th in the nation in The American Rocketry Challenge her senior year. After graduating in May of 2021 from Tharptown High School in Russellville, Alabama. Perla learned about the AMTAP program but was unsure if it was the career she wanted to pursue. She was debating between an engineering and a business degree. 

“I started the AMTAP Program at the Courtland site in July of 2021. During the program, I learned a variety of skills and basic knowledge that was all new to me,” said Perla. She continued “AMTAP opened a whole new world of Aerospace, and that helped me decide to pursue a career in STEM.”  Perla successfully graduated the AMTAP Cohort 9 in August of 2021.

“When I first started as a technician, I was put on the biggest build at the time it was very challenging and overwhelming, but after a couple of weeks, it all started to make sense,” Perla remembers. “Everything that we were taught in class helped me understand the process and problem-solving as new issues arose,” continues Perla. 

As a technician, Perla continues to learn new skills from his job that she says going to college right after high school, would have taken her years to learn. Some of these skills include being able to confidently present things in front of a group of people, discussing and communicating with teams, participating in discussion panels, and leadership skills. Perla is currently pursuing her bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering.

“I hope my story can teach students like myself who may be unsure of their future career path as well as inspire first-generation students to pursue their dreams,” concluded Perla.

At Lockheed Martin, Perla is one of over 1,800 apprentices of all ages from diverse backgrounds and experiences who receive training, mentoring, and hands-on learning.

Publish Date: 08/23/2023

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