Back to Resources

Aireon’s Women Who Rock(et): Janessa Vankauwenberg

In celebration of Women’s History, Aireon is honoring the achievements of some of the great women at Aireon and asking them about their experience working in aviation, a primarily male-dominated industry.

Janessa Vankauwenberg, Test Engineering Specialist at Aireon, has been with the company for 7 months, working primarily on the development and testing of new technologies.

Janessa Vankauwenberg, Test Engineering Specialist

What led you to your career in aviation?

Travel has always played a big role in my life, but I was more fascinated with the aircraft I was traveling in. This interest led me down the path of aeronautical engineering. Initially, my goal was to work with the NTSB turning aviation tragedies into lessons learned. However, a pivotal moment at the FAA changed my perspective. The investigation of a plane crash involving someone I knew, made the risks and stakes of aviation very personal to me. I shifted my focus towards using technology to improve aviation safety, driven by a commitment to prevent such losses. As time has passed, my passion for aviation technology has grown, fueled by the remarkable advancements made by companies like Aireon. Being involved in an industry that continuously advances in safety and innovation has been incredibly motivating.

Can you explain a bit of the work you do at Aireon?

For the past seven months, I’ve been a part of a team that is diligently working towards the development and testing of new capabilities to the Aireon system. My subject area is in test engineering, and it has been very exciting incorporating new technologies and automation into the new system.

What inspires you and why?

When an astronaut perceives the Earth from space, they experience a sense of clarity known as the overview effect which ignites a sense of unity and responsibility.’ Although I have not seen earth from a far, I’m truly inspired by the sense of unity and responsibility that aviation brings to the world. I witness this every day with people I work with, we share the collective desire to continuously improve and achieve safer skies. We share a passion to explore new frontiers while ensuring sustainability and safety to the aviation community.

What’s the most important piece of advice you would give to a women starting a career in aviation?

To any woman looking to break into the aviation industry, it’s important to recognize both the challenges and the opportunities. Aviation has been male dominated field, but this is changing. Personally, I didn’t fully anticipate this upon entering the field, but in hindsight, the sooner you grasp this reality, the greater your potential impact. I believe the industry values diverse perspectives because it leads to smarter, safer, and more innovative ideas. Believe in the impact you make; your efforts may inspire others and the aviation world needs this now more than ever.