April 22, 2008

United Airlines-Aviation Career Day is April 26

by Pete Rosenbery

CARBONDALE, Ill. — Approximately 104 Chicago-area high school students will arrive at Southern Illinois University Carbondale in style this weekend — aboard a United Airlines 737 — to hopefully embark on an aviation career.

The University's aviation programs host United Airlines-SIUC Aviation Career Day on Saturday, April 26. 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, photographers and news crews are welcome to attend the event and interview students and faculty. The plane will land at Southern Illinois Airport at about 8:45 a.m. For more information, contact David A. NewMyer or David L. Jaynes at 618/453-8898.

Aviation Career Days dates 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.

This year's event also marks a special homecoming for NewMyer, aviation faculty, and approximately 15 SIUC aviation alumni who work at United Airlines who will be aboard the flight.

The 737-300 plane honors Matthew K. Meier, a 1993 SIUC graduate in aviation management. Meier, a three-year letter winner for the football Salukis, worked for United Airlines in aircraft routing and scheduling when he died in September 1996 after a 15-month battle with cancer. Meier's name is on the front of the plane below the cockpit — an honor presented by Meier's co-workers at United a few months after his death.

There is also the "Matthew K. Meier Faith, Family, Friendship, Fortitude, Future Aviation Management Scholarship" presented at SIUC.

Meier was a good student, said NewMyer, who served as Meier's' academic adviser.

""He was the kind of student who you wanted to do your best for as an adviser to make sure he got everything done in a timely manner," NewMyer said. "He was a really great guy."

Saturday marks the first time since 2000 that the plane — piloted for this trip by SIUC 1994 aviation flight and aviation management graduate Scott Stoker — is part of the United Airlines' aviation career day. The entire five- to six-person flight crew, along with another 10 volunteers on the flight, is SIUC alumni.

United Airlines previously donated two aircraft to the University's aviation program. In addition, there are several hundred SIUC aviation alumni who work for the company.

Hosting aviation career days is vital for attracting students to the University's nationally recognized aviation programs, NewMyer said.

"United Day has a focus in our major market — which is the Chicago area and suburbs, southwest Indiana and southern Wisconsin," NewMyer said. "That area is where we get probably 60 percent of our students. It's absolutely essential to attract the best and the brightest students interested in aviation from that area."

United Airlines, he notes, donates everything, including fuel, which NewMyer estimates costs between $6,000 and $7,000 for the event.

Students, along with parents, teachers and chaperones, will depart from Chicago aboard a United Airlines flight at 8 a.m., and arrive about 45 minutes later at Southern Illinois Airport, between Carbondale and Murphysboro.

There, students will tour the aviation programs facilities, and 20 students will receive introductory flights based upon their grade point averages. The students then bus to Carbondale to tour the main campus and hear a panel discussion from United Airlines personnel — also SIUC aviation program graduates — about their jobs and career opportunities in aviation management and flight and aviation technologies.

Of the more than 2.1 million jobs in aviation-related fields, 676,000 work for the airlines, NewMyer said.

Career Day events provide not only a great recruiting mechanism for SIUC's aviation programs, but also a chance for program alumni to visit the campus. NewMyer estimates that 10 to 15 percent of students accepted into one of SIUC's aviation programs attended a career day event.

NewMyer said he is excited when aviation alumni meet with prospective students and offer first-hand insights and career guidance to students who are considering an aviation field. He emphasizes the career day is not only for those interested in aviation flight career, but also aviation technology and aviation management. SIUC offers a more comprehensive choice than other universities, including the University of Illinois, which no longer offers an aviation technology degree, NewMyer said.

"What we are hoping is that students see the comprehensive nature of our program and are able to choose what they want," NewMyer said.

The aviation program hosted a general aviation/corporate aviation career day earlier this month. There is another aviation career day each fall.

"We sincerely hope that those students who really have a connection to SIUC because of the career day will come back and join us for one of our really great aviation degree programs," he said.

The itinerary for the day is:

  • 6:30 — Check-in at Chicago O'Hare International Airport.
  • 8 a.m. — Depart for Carbondale.
  • 8:45-9 a.m. — Arrive at Southern Illinois Airport.
  • 9-9:15 a.m. — Group photo on the ramp.
  • 9:15-11:15 a.m. — Airport tours and introductory flights in SIUC aircraft.
  • 11:15 a.m.-noon — Lunch.
  • Noon — Students depart for campus.
  • 12:30-2 p.m. — Aviation careers panel discussion; information on SIUC aviation programs and how to apply to SIUC. Wham, room 105.
  • 2-3 p.m. — Tours of campus.
  • 3:30 p.m. — Depart for Southern Illinois Airport.
  • 4:30 p.m. — Return flight arrives at Chicago O'Hare International Airport.