October 13, 2011

Annual American Airlines career day is Oct. 15

by Pete Rosenbery

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- With a national intercollegiate flying title and soon-to-be finished Transportation Education Center that will mean a significant facility upgrade, the reputation of Southern Illinois University Carbondale’s aviation program continues to grow.

Approximately 118 potential aviation students will participate this year in the annual American Airlines-SIU Carbondale Career Day, Saturday, Oct. 15. The majority of students are from the Chicago area, although some students from Ohio and Colorado will also attend.

The continuing partnership with American Airlines provides the University with a perfect vehicle for showcasing all that SIU Carbondale has to offer to prospective high school and community college students who visit the campus.

“It takes a special type of person to love aviation.  At American Airlines, the passion for travel, airplanes and flying runs very deep, and our employees -- myself included -- love taking every opportunity to talk about aviation and in particular a career in the airline industry,” said Bob Reding, American’s executive vice president-operations. “We’re very fortunate to have been able to partner with SIU Carbondale for the past seven years. SIU Carbondale’s Aviation Career Day allows our employees to inspire this passion in the next generation of aerospace and aviation professionals.”

Media Advisory

Reporters, photographers and camera crews are welcome to attend the event and interview students, faculty and American Airlines personnel.  The optimum time for video and photos will be when the plane lands at Southern Illinois Airport at approximately 8:45 a.m., Saturday, Oct. 15.  Contact Lori Robertson at 618/453-8898 for more information.

 This is the seventh consecutive year Chicago-area students are flying American Airlines to visit the University’s aviation programs.  Aviation career days also take place each spring.  Students will fly from Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport to learn more about the University’s aviation programs, and have the opportunity to talk with American Airlines personnel.

“American Airlines has always been a class act,” said David A. NewMyer, chair of the University’s Department of Aviation Management and Flight.  “The reason we are able to have this is because of the great partnership that we have with our alumni, like Jay Rud and Steve Brainerd.  We are fortunate to have them right there with us, supporting us all the way to allow us to do these great things with our program.”

The aviation management, aviation flight, and aviation technologies programs are within the College of Applied Sciences and Arts.

The interest in the program is high, with a record number of 211 applications, NewMyer said.  When registration began in early September there already were more than 60 online applications within the first 24 hours.  The application process closed 10 days later with more than 200 students expressing interest in attending, NewMyer said.

The largest number of applications came from Lyons Township High School in LaGrange with 14, and six from Dundee Crown High School in Carpentersville.

“The fact that American Airlines has the confidence in SIU Carbondale to say they will devote an airplane for a day is a big morale boost,” NewMyer said.

American Airlines Capt. Rich Mueller, who earned his bachelor’s degree from SIU Carbondale in aviation management and aviation maintenance in 1980, flew the plane into Southern Illinois a year ago, and this year will pilot an MD-83 from Chicago to Southern Illinois Airport.  The flight will include 22 American Airlines volunteer crew and flight personnel, in addition to airline maintenance and management employees.  Many of those employees are SIU Carbondale aviation program graduates, or have children attending the University.

Rud, who is currently the chief pilot for the airline at O’Hare, said the day is “very rewarding for all of us.”  Hired by American Airlines in 1986, Rud earned his bachelor’s degree in technical careers with an associate degree in aviation technology in 1983.   He recently returned as a chief pilot after more than three years as a captain/check airman out of Miami

Rud said most of the crew have volunteered previously “and insist on coming back again.”

“It’s always fun to come back into the place where you spent so much time learning the craft that is now your career,” he said.

Selected students will receive introductory flights in aviation program aircraft.  All students will tour the University’s aviation facilities and the main campus, and also attend a presentation on the aviation industry and SIU Carbondale’s programs that features American Airlines personnel and University aviation officials.

Students will also receive an update on the progress of the 200,000-square-foot Transportation Education Center at the airport.  The project, with an anticipated fall 2012 completion date, will bring all three aviation programs and the automotive technology program together.  Included in the project is a state-of-the-art aviation test cell, which will allow students and faculty in the aviation technologies program to run high-powered turbine, piston, and reciprocating engines in a safe environment.

“The American Airlines Career Day has been instrumental to our recent successes in enrollment,” said Michael A. Burgener, an associate professor and chair of the Department of Aviation Technologies.  “It introduces hundreds of students to career fields in aviation, and gives us the opportunity to showcase all the programs we have to help them meet their career goals.”

NewMyer and Burgener each note increases in the numbers of new students.  The aviation flight program remains at about 191 students, but there are 88 new students for the fall 2012 semester, the largest increase in the number of new students coming into the program since 2005, NewMyer said.  There are 159 students in the aviation technologies program, an increase of 51 from two years ago, and there are nearly 70 students in the program’s beginning classes, Burgener said.

The success of the Flying Salukis, the Transportation Education Center, and the strength of the University’s aviation programs are all factors in increasing enrollment numbers, NewMyer said.

Another reason for the increasing interest is the decision earlier this summer by the University of Illinois to close its Institute of Aviation; the program is no long admitting freshmen, NewMyer said.  That leaves SIU Carbondale as the only public university in the state with an aviation program.

“I’m also excited that SIU can show their commitment to aviation education by the continued construction of the Transportation Education Center,” Rud said.  The aviation program is offering a new Air Traffic Control minor, which is part of the aviation management program.

Rud said two air traffic controllers from the Chicago Air Route Traffic Control Center will also be on the flight to help mentor prospective students interested in that field.

Aviation industry projections are for increasing opportunities in the job market, NewMyer said.

A recent pilots and technicians current market outlook from Boeing states as the global commercial fleet expands over the next 20 years, the world’s airlines “will need to add 460,000 pilots and 650,000 maintenance technicians, both to fly and maintain the new airplanes and replace current personnel who are due to retire during the period.”

The itinerary for the day is:

  • 8:45 a.m. -- Arrive at Southern Illinois Airport.

  • 9 a.m. -- Group photo at planeside.

  • 9:15 to 11:15 a.m. -- Airport tours, introductory flights.

  • 11:15 a.m. to noon – Lunch, Southern Illinois Airport.

  • 12:30 to 1:30 p.m. -- Aviation careers briefing; briefing on SIU Carbondale. Lawson Hall, 151.

  • 1:30 to 2:45 p.m. -- Tour of SIU Carbondale campus, including the Student Recreation Center.

  • 3:30 p.m. -- Buses depart for Southern Illinois Airport.

  • 5:30 p.m. -- Return flight arrives at Chicago O’Hare International Airport.

For more information on the event, contact Lori Robertson at 618/453-8898 or by email at lrobertson@aviation.siu.edu.