October 17, 2005

Aviation Career Day draws record interest

by Pete Rosenbery

avaiton day

Caption follows story

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- With great weather and record number of interested applicants, Southern Illinois University Carbondale's annual Aviation Career Day earlier this month was very successful.

"Overall, we had the best response we ever had," said David A. NewMyer, chair of SIUC's aviation management and flight program. "We had a great group of kids and wonderful group of American Airlines volunteers."

The career day collaboration with a large airline is the only one in the nation. The event dates back to 1994.

The Oct. 8 event brought a record 108 high school and community college students interested in aviation careers. They made the 40-minute flight from Chicago's O'Hare International Airport to Southern Illinois Airport between Carbondale and Murphysboro to learn more about one of the nation's leading aviation programs. Every seat was full on the American Airlines MD-80, which featured an American Airlines crew comprised of SIUC aviation alumni.

The interest level was high. A total of 300 students applied for a seat.

"We were just overwhelmed with the interest," NewMyer said. "Having 300 kids was wonderful. We are going to be following up with the kids who were not able to come on the flight and get them to come down independently on their own."

Students toured the program's facilities, received introductory 45-minute flights in one of the University's 16 flight-training airplanes, and toured the main campus. They also heard from American Airlines' personnel about their jobs and career opportunities in both aviation management and flight and aviation technologies.

Students from northern Illinois, southern Wisconsin, northwestern Indiana, Iowa, Rhode Island and North Carolina attended the event. NewMyer also applauded the "behind-the-scenes work," and the "overwhelming" volunteer support from American Airlines, which provided the airplane. Of the 19 volunteers, all but two were program alumni, he said.

Several of the visiting students came to NewMyer after the event to indicate they plan to enroll in SIUC's program.

"I don't think there is any doubt that it had a very positive impact," he said.

The annual spring Corporate Aviation/General Aviation Career Day – where participants drive to Carbondale – is April 29. For more information on the event, visit the aviation program's career day Web site at http://www. www.aviation.siu.edu/careerdays/, or contact NewMyer at 618/453-8898.

(Caption: Checking it out -- Bryan Wright (left), a visiting assistant instructor in Southern Illinois University Carbondale’s Aviation Management and Flight Program, performs pre-flight checks with visiting high school students Steve Pellegrino (middle) of North Providence, R.I., and Yarisma Mendoza (right) of Chicago at Southern Illinois Airport, Saturday, Oct. 8. Pellegrino and Mendoza were two of 108 high school and junior college students participating in the 14th SIUC Aviation Career Day. Students flew aboard an American Airlines MD-80 from Chicago piloted by SIUC aviation graduates for the event, which included flights aboard SIUC aviation program training planes, tours and panel discussions. Pellegrino is a junior at Mount St. Charles Academy; Mendoza is a senior at Schurz High School.)

Photo by Jeff Garner