NAVAIR engineer reaches for Miss America crown

By day Angela Starner is a NAVAIR crew systems engineer here who makes sure designs for flight crews are safe.

But as the reigning Miss Montgomery County in her spare time she makes appearances at festivals, senior citizen centers and works to raise awareness about child safety in car seats.

On March 15, Starner was crowned Miss Montgomery County in the official preliminary to the Miss America contest. But before going to Miss America, she will compete in the Miss Maryland contest at The Maryland Theater in Hagerstown on June 26, 27 and 28.
“I was extremely excited,” Starner said about winning the Miss Montgomery County crown. Although Starner lives in St. Mary’s County, she was able to qualify for Miss Maryland in any county.

She first had reservations about running because she is a year below the 25-year-old cut off age for Miss America. Encouragement from others, including the judges, convinced her to give it a try.

“When I lived in Ohio, I competed in a competition for a festival queen in my hometown. It was a preliminary for Miss Ohio. I tried for 3 years to win it,” she said. “Third time’s a charm.”

Starner’s resumé for the Miss America competition began in high school.
She was the 1996 Marion County Fair queen in Ohio, a junior fair board member, a cheerleader in high school, a junior varsity cheerleader at Miami University, and a Marion Star Teen of the Month runner up. She has had training in musical performance and gymnastics.

In her Marion, Ohio, hometown, Starner captured the 1999 title of Miss Marion Popcorn Festival after she won the swimsuit and eveningwear awards. For that competition, each entrant was judged on a private interview with the judges, physical fitness in a swimsuit, a 2-minute talent presentation, poise and appearance in eveningwear. At that festival, she sang “With One Look” from Sunset Boulevard and took the title along with a $1,000 scholarship to represent Marion and surrounding counties at the Miss Ohio Scholarship Program in June 2000. The crown also entitled her to $1,000 to spend preparing for the Miss Ohio competition.

“When I won and was able to go to Miss Ohio, I had so much fun and I won scholarship money, so from there, I kept competing in preliminaries around Ohio,” she said. “When I moved to Maryland, I had to live or work here for six months until I could compete..

Starner attended Miami University and transferred to Ohio State University to major in industrial and systems engineering. When she won Miss Marion Popcorn, she said at the time her goal was to be an industrial/systems engineer in a large machine industry..

“I had already been in school two years as an engineering major,” she said. “I had several internships and co-ops in the engineering field and then NAVAIR came to a job fair at Ohio State University.”

She was invited down for an interview and began work here last year.

At Crew Systems, she works with technicians and electronic engineers to make sure any gear that would be worn or used in an aircraft doesn’t interfere with safety and that in case of trouble, aircrews would survive with minimal injury.

She is being “ordnance certified,” which will allow her to work with gunpowder and other propellants.

She is also a certified “baby seat” technician who, with crew systems, tests child restraint systems for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Her work with child seat certification helped her develop her platform.

Starner’s Miss Montgomery County platform is educating people about proper child seat restraint systems and their use.

Starner was pleasantly surprised when she competed in Maryland. One judge worked for the Maryland Motor Vehicles Association and asked questions about child seat restraints.

“Prior to the competition, we received bios from the judges,” she said. “Then I found out that one was associated with the MMVA. He did ask questions in my interview to make sure I knew what I was talking about concerning my platform, and that I really did spend time on it.”

As a certified “baby technician” Starner realized the importance of proper installation and use of child safety seats.

“There is a huge amount of misuse and uneducated parents out there,” she said.
More than 2,000 children are killed each year in motor vehicle collisions and another 360,000 are injured, according to the Maryland Highway Safety Office. Motor vehicle crashes kill more children under 14 than any other cause of death.

Starner supports a new state law that takes effect in October and will extend to 6 the age requirement for the use of child safety seats in Maryland-registered vehicles.

Meanwhile, her colleagues describe her as a team-oriented person and a hard worker who they hope to see in national competition in Atlantic City.

“We’re excited that one of our team members is in the competition,” said her boss John Meyers. “We wish her the best of luck and she’s got our full support.”

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