September 29, 2004

Internship agreement to benefit aviation students

by Pete Rosenbery

CARBONDALE, Ill. - - Southern Illinois University Carbondale and Midwest Airlines Inc. have entered into an agreement that will provide valuable experience and could lead to new career avenues for students in the University's aviation flight operations program.

"When you add this to the other internship options, it gives our students just a great range of carriers Ð from large to small, from regional carriers to major carriers to work with," said David A. NewMyer, chair of the Department of Aviation Management and Flight. "The real advantage to our students is it gives them an ever-greater choice."

Under the agreement, the Milwaukee-based air carrier will periodically accept students to participate in the internship program, beginning in the spring 2005 semester. Students will have the opportunity to work in several areas of the airline industry, including flight operations directly for the chief pilot, the operation's control center, flight standards and training, and the airline's vice president of flight operations. Students will receive jump-seat privileges so they can sit behind pilots and observe flight crews operate the aircraft, and will also be sent to the local pilots union hall for two weeks to observe and receive the input of union officials and members, said NewMyer.

Students will receive academic credit for the semester. Midwest Airlines does not provide any compensation and students are responsible for their personal expenses.

The agreement is good for all involved, said Thomas C. Irwin, vice president of flight operations for Midwest Airlines.

"We get the students exposed to some real-life operations out here and they get a first-hand chance to apply some of the skills and training that they have been preparing to do," he said.

"We are looking forward to establishing the relationship with SIUC," said Irwin, who participated in a similar relationship with SIUC when he worked for Trans World Airlines.

"I know that the people who come from SIUC are going to be reliable, good workers and anxious to learn about the business," said Irwin. "It's a combination of both of those things -- willingness and desire -- that make the relationship successful."

Midwest Airlines, and its regional carrier, Midwest Connect, operate 51 aircraft flying to 49 cities, including New York, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C. The fleet includes McDonnell Douglas MD-80, Boeing 717, Beechcraft 1900D turbo-prop aircraft and Fairchild Dornier 328 regional jets. The airline employs more than 3,000 people.

Dean Paul D. Sarvela of the College of Applied Sciences and Arts said the University is "delighted" to enter into the agreement.

"They are an extraordinary airline," Sarvela said. "Through this internship, our students will be a part of a state-of-the-art operation, and in turn, Midwest will be able to have a careful look at some potential new employees. Internships like this one are always a 'win-win' for both SIUC and the company that sponsors the interns, and are directly related to the Southern at 150 Strategic Plan . . ." Shaping high-quality undergraduate programs is among the goals of Southern at 150: Building Excellence through Commitment, the blueprint for the development of the University by the time it celebrates its 150th anniversary in 2019.

Another important fact is that the internship gets the nationally recognized aviation program into a new market in Wisconsin, said NewMyer.

"There is no public, four-year institution that offers aviation in Wisconsin. SIUC is, therefore, positioning itself in aviation to help serve not only Illinois, but Wisconsin and southeastern Wisconsin," he said.

NewMyer said there are discussions with Midwest about extending the internship to include maintenance and management, so that all of the program's undergraduate majors could benefit.

The SIUC Department of Aviation Management and Flight now has internship agreements with eight airlines, including American, ATA, Chicago Express, Delta, Midwest, Northwest, United and United Parcel Service.