September 22, 2008

SIUC, American Airlines team up for career day

by Pete Rosenbery

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- The passion for aviation soars for David A. NewMyer and faculty in Southern Illinois University Carbondale’s aviation programs.

Sharing the passion with former, current and potential future students in the University’s acclaimed aviation programs is a significant part of the annual SIUC-American Airlines Aviation Career Day.

Organizers expect to bring 110 Chicago-area high school and community college students to campus on Oct. 11. Students will fly from Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport to learn more about one of the nation’s premier aviation programs and they will have the opportunity to talk with American Airlines personnel who are SIUC graduates.

Approximately 95 students have submitted applications so far. Applications are being accepted until the plane is filled. Online applications are available at

This is the fourth consecutive year Chicago-area students are flying American Airlines to visit the University’s aviation program in the fall. Aviation career days also take place each spring.

Media Advisory

Reporters, photographers and news crews are welcome to attend the event and interview students, faculty and American Airlines personnel. The optimum time for video and photos will be when the plane lands at Southern Illinois Airport at approximately 8:45 a.m., Saturday, Oct. 11. For more information, contact David A. NewMyer at 618/453-8898.

“It’s a great opportunity to have 110 potential students visit your campus and listen to you talk about your programs,” NewMyer said. “It’s a great opportunity for SIUC. There is immeasurable positive impact.”

The aviation management, aviation flight, and aviation technologies programs are within SIUC’s College of Applied Sciences and Arts.

NewMyer credits American Airlines for its continuing participation. The airline is providing an MD80 jet. In addition, approximately 15 volunteer American Airlines employees, many of whom are SIUC aviation program alums, are volunteering their time for the trip.

Bob Reding, American Airlines’ executive vice president for operations, said, “American feels it is very important to support and participate in activities that encourage young people to seek careers in aviation. Aviation is a dynamic and exciting industry with many frontiers still to

be conquered. The U.S. commercial airline industry in particular needs an infusion of young people with fresh ideas as it continues to evolve some 30 years after federal deregulation.“

NewMyer is not aware of a similar career-day collaboration between a university and a major airline.

Held during Homecoming weekend, the career day also helps former aviation students to reconnect with the University. The American Airlines alumni will again be present at the SIU Alumni Association tent that day for introductions by college Dean Paul D. Sarvela.

“This is a wonderful opportunity for SIUC to have a partnership with American Airlines,” NewMyer said. “This is a partnership with the largest airline in the free world; they are the big guys on the block. Being able to work with them is quite a privilege.”

Recent cutbacks in the airline industry due in part to rising fuel prices are not as bad as in the days following 9/11, NewMyer said. Some airlines, including smaller regional airlines, continue to hire, he said.

The career day allows aviation industry personnel the chance to talk about a career that they love and remain optimistic about, NewMyer said.

“It’s always been a great alumni event. It’s great as far as an alumni connection. We get to talk about this great industry we are in,” he said.

Students and teachers depart from Chicago at 8 a.m. and arrive about 40 minutes later at Southern Illinois Airport, between Carbondale and Murphysboro. After arriving in Southern Illinois, students tour the aviation program’s facilities and participate in aviation career seminars.

Based on grades and past interest in aviation, 30 randomly selected students will fly with aviation department faculty in flight training airplanes.

Students will bus to Carbondale to tour the main campus and hear from American Airlines personnel about their jobs and career opportunities in aviation management, flight, and aviation technologies. Current SIUC students will also discuss their experiences in the program.

The career day is something close to Jay Rud’s heart as both an aviation program alum and, currently, a check airman with American Airlines. Check airmen accompany new co-pilots and captains during their initial flights. Rud will be among the volunteers accompanying students on the flight.

“This gives high school students who come down an opportunity to view the different types of programs available in aviation,” he said. SIUC “is one of the few places in the nation where they offer all these programs. We’re enthusiastic about doing our part to expose kids to multiple career opportunities in aviation.”

Rud is a 1983 SIUC aviation graduate in aviation flight and aviation technologies.

In addition to the seven crew members who operate the flight, there are typically another 10 to 15 American Airlines employees who also make the trip. In the past, airline employees from New York, El Paso, and Miami have volunteered their own time to accompany students, Rud said. Interest in the event is so high that he has to turn away employee-alumni. In some cases, American Airlines employees whose own children attend SIUC make the trip to encourage these students to consider aviation careers.

A large percentage of students who enroll in the University’s aviation programs participate in at least one of the career days. Half of the 56 new students at orientation in August indicated they participated in an aviation or corporate career day, NewMyer said. Of those who did, about half of those students were part of the American Airlines events.

The itinerary for the day is:

  • 6-7 a.m. -- Check-in at Chicago O’Hare International Airport, American Airlines terminal.
  • 8 a.m. -- Depart for Carbondale.
  • 8:45-9 a.m. -- Arrive at Southern Illinois Airport.
  • 9:15 a.m. -- Group photo at planeside.
  • 9:45 a.m.-noon -- Airport tours, introductory flights and lunch.
  • 12:45 p.m. to 2 p.m. -- Aviation careers briefing; briefing on SIUC.
  • 2-3 p.m. -- Tour of SIUC campus.
  • 3:15 p.m. -- Buses depart for Southern Illinois Airport.
  • 3:30 p.m. -- Check-in and passenger security screenings.
  • 5:30 p.m. -- Return flight arrives at Chicago O’Hare International Airport.