September 29, 2005

Partnership with American Airlines Aviation program to host Chicago-area students

by Pete Rosenbery

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- The romanticism of looking up into the sky and dreaming of being able to fly comes true next week for 100 possible future aviators.

In a continuing venture with American Airlines, Southern Illinois University Carbondale's aviation program is hosting its annual SIUC Aviation Career Day on Saturday, Oct. 8. High school and community college students interested in the aviation field are flying from Chicago's O'Hare International Airport to Carbondale to learn more about one of the nation's leading aviation programs.


Media Advisory

Reporters and photographers or news crews in northern Illinois interested in accompanying students to SIUC's Aviation Career Day on Saturday, Oct. 8, should contact David A. NewMyer or Lori Robertson at 618/453-8898. Seating is limited. Reporters and photographers in Southern Illinois are welcome to attend the event and interview students, faculty and American Airlines personnel.


This is the 14th aviation career day, an event that dates back to 1994. The career day collaboration with a large airline is the only one in the nation, according to David A. NewMyer, chair of SIUC's aviation management and flight program.

Students, along with parents, teachers and chaperones, will depart from Chicago aboard an American Airlines MD-80 at 8 a.m. and arrive about 40 minutes later at Southern Illinois Airport, between Carbondale and Murphysboro.

There, students will tour the aviation program's facilities, receive introductory flights on flight training airplanes and participate in aviation career seminars. The students then bus to Carbondale to tour the main campus and hear first-hand from American Airlines personnel – who also are SIUC aviation program graduates – about their jobs and career opportunities in both aviation management and flight, and aviation technologies.

NewMyer emphasizes that aviation offers career options other than flying or working on planes. There are more than 2.1 million jobs in aviation and 9 percent of the nation's gross domestic product has something to do with aviation. Other aviation-related fields include airport planners, airport managers, marketing, and product support for aviation manufacturers.

Career day organizers received more than 200 applications. NewMyer is gratified with the response – the largest number of applications received for the event – and he points to the program's strength as a key reason. Students who are attending expressed interest in aviation careers to school counselors or contacted SIUC, he said.

"I hope they get an understanding of the broad breadth of aviation – there is more than just flying in the career field," he said. "Secondly, I hope they get a good understanding of the University itself. Many kids have never seen SIUC and they don't know how big it is, how beautiful the campus is – and we want them to see all that."

NewMyer anticipates between 15 and 20 American Airlines employees – including several program alums – will be on the flight piloted by SIUC alums Captain Steve Brainerd and First Officer Tom Meager.

"Bringing the airplane back is going to be exciting for them because they last time they flew into Carbondale they were flying in little airplanes," NewMyer said.

Providing a high quality undergraduate education 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.

More than half of the 90 new students in this year's aviation flight program attended a previous SIUC career day event, NewMyer said.

"By meeting with our faculty, alumni, as well as current students, these high school students will be able to talk about careers, curriculum and emerging opportunities in these exciting professions," said Paul D. Sarvela, dean of SIUC's College of Applied Sciences and Arts. "We are grateful for the generous contribution of the MD-80 by American Airlines to fly these students to Carbondale, and most pleased that our alums will be flying the plane as well as serving as flight attendants during the trip. That our alums have taken personal time to take part in this event is an excellent example of the strong support our grads show for all our programs."

American Airlines believes in "encouraging students who may be interested in a career in aviation to learn more about the profession," said Mark Hettermann, vice president-flight for American Airlines.

"We are proud to provide the transportation for interested Chicago-area high school students to learn more about the aviation program at Southern Illinois University Carbondale," he said. "Many of our pilots, flight attendants, ground personnel and management employees are proud graduates of this fine institution."

Among the other American Airlines employees/SIUC alumni participating are flight attendants Karen Kalamegos, Steve Emmert and Linda Olson-Amburg, Captain Jim Rouley, ground security coordinator Ray Walden, ramp manager Rob Cumley, and aircraft maintenance Ray Sepkis and aircraft maintenance/avionics Jim Stelter.

Jay Rud is one of American Airlines' three chief pilots at O'Hare, and supervises about one-third of the 1,600 American pilots based out of O'Hare. He is a 1983 SIUC graduate in aviation flight and aviation maintenance.

Riding in an MD-80 and in the flight school's training airplanes "is an extremely memorable experience for the students," he said.

He noted that a large number of American employees are SIUC alumni, and the participation boosts morale. The employees involved are volunteering their time.

"It shows American is certainly interested in individuals who are potential future employees by giving them the opportunity to see the type of professions that are available through the aviation department at SIUC," he said.

The itinerary for the day is:

  • 7 a.m. – Check-in at Chicago O'Hare International Airport.
  • 8 a.m. – Depart for Carbondale.
  • 8:45-9 a.m. – Arrive at Carbondale.
  • 9:15 a.m. – Group photo at planeside.
  • 9:45 a.m.-noon – Airport tours, introductory flights, and lunch.
  • 12:45 a.m.-2 p.m. – Aviation careers briefing; briefing on SIUC.
  • 2-3 p.m. – Tour of SIUC campus.
  • 3:15 p.m. – Buses depart for Williamson County Regional Airport.
  • 3:45 p.m. – Check-in and passenger security screenings.
  • 5 p.m. – Return flight arrives at Chicago O'Hare International Airport.

Students from these communities are among those expected to attend:


Arlington Heights, Aurora, Barrington, Bartlett, Berwyn, Calumet Park, Chatham, Chicago, Coal Valley, Crystal Lake, DeKalb, Des Plaines, East Dundee, East Moline, Genoa, Hampshire, Hanover, Hoffman Estates, Johnsburg, Kirkland, Lansing, Maple Park, Melrose Park, Morton, Mundelein, Naperville, Oak Lawn, Palatine, Richton Park, Richmond, Rockford, Rockton, Roselle, Sandwich, St. Charles, Secor, Schaumburg, Skokie, Steger, Stillman Valley, Summit, Warrenville, Wheaton, Woodstock,.



Rhode Island:

North Providence.


Conover, Janesville.