October 19, 2007

Internship agreement will benefit aviation students

by Pete Rosenbery


CARBONDALE, Ill. — An internship agreement with one of the nation's leading aviation support companies will provide Southern Illinois University Carbondale aviation program students with greater insight into the industry.

The University and Wood Dale-based AAR CORP. recently finalized an internship agreement that starts next summer. The paid internships will last three months.

David A. NewMyer, chair of the Department of Aviation Management and Flight, said the agreement is significant because this is the University's first aviation internship geared toward students majoring in aviation management and aviation technology programs. With eight internship agreements already in place, SIUC is one of the nation's leading providers of flight operations internships for college aviation students.

"The internships will give students a unique view of the industry," NewMyer said. "For aviation management students, it's going to be a wonderful opportunity to learn about a part of the industry that not a lot of people know about. Everybody knows about airlines and manufacturing, but a diverse after-market support company like AAR is unique, especially in light of the exceptional growth underway in this segment of the marketplace."

Because there are many specializations within the aviation industry, the agreement gives students an opportunity to work in the industry and "get a feel for whether that is the right specialization within the aviation discipline," said John D. Cotter, interim chair of SIUC's Department of Aviation Technology.

NewMyer was touring the suburban Chicago firm last year when Steven Machala, a 2002 SIUC aviation management graduate who is in senior commercial airframe sales with AAR, suggested the internship. It was a possibility that NewMyer also expressed an interest in pursuing.

The company utilizes interns from different schools in their programs, but this is the first formal partnership with a university, Machala said.

"I'm very proud to head this up and I'm certain this will provide an excellent opportunity for students to learn and gain valuable work experience with an aviation industry leader," he said.

The interns will likely work out of the company's Wood Dale complex, located near O'Hare International Airport, where they will be thrown "into a real-life situation where they will be playing a real part in day-to-day operations," Machala said. Those duties could include working exclusively with one airline to provide parts or, working with different product lines specific to one aircraft type and assisting managers in their daily activities.

There are 13 SIUC graduates working at AAR's Wood Dale location.

Mark R. Angel, quality program director with AAR, earned his degree in aviation technologies from SIUC in 1996. The internship agreement gives AAR "an opportunity to attract the best and brightest students that SIUC has to offer," he said.

"AAR and SIUC share a culture that demands a strong work ethic and fosters fresh ideas from an entrepreneurial spirit, so, we are confident we will find candidates that are a great fit for our business," he said.

The internship program also gives students the opportunity to see that the aviation industry is thriving and offers rewarding careers other than working as a pilot or maintenance technician, Angel said. According to NewMyer, there are approximately 2.1 million jobs in aviation, and 9 percent of the nation's gross domestic product is aviation-related.

Founded in 1951, AAR serves the aviation/aerospace marketplace with products and services in four major areas — aviation supply chain; maintenance, repair and overhaul; in-aircraft cargo loading systems and composite structures for aviation and transportation industries; and aircraft sales and leasing.