July 27, 2009

Burgener named aviation technologies chair

by Pete Rosenbery

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- Associate Professor Michael A. Burgener is the new chair in Southern Illinois University Carbondale’s Department of Aviation Technologies.

Terry A. Owens, interim dean of the College of Applied Sciences and Arts, recently announced Burgener’s appointment. The SIU Board of Trustees approved the appointment earlier this month.

The aviation technologies program enters its 45th year this fall. The program started in September 1965.

“I consider this the best program of its type in the nation,” he said. “We have a talented group of instructors and students. I just want to see continued success.”

“We believe Mr. Burgener’s background, which includes both aviation industry and academic experience, make him well qualified to lead this unit,” Owens said. “He has immediately engaged in the continued development of a dual enrollment agreement with Shawnee Community College that will enable their students to complete a Federal Aviation Administration-approved Airframe and Powerplant Certificate and Aviation Technology degree at SIUC.”

Burgener has been with the University since August 2002. Prior to that he served as program coordinator in aircraft maintenance technology at Trident Technical College in Charleston, S.C. His experience also includes work with Piedmont Airlines, and as an aircraft ground support equipment mechanic with the U.S. Air Force.

He earned a master’s degree in business administration from The Citadel. Burgener earned his bachelor’s degree in workforce education from SIUC, and an associate degree in aircraft maintenance technology from Trident Technical College.

Burgener replaces assistant professor John D. Cotter, who served as interim chair. The department has about 115 students.

The Transportation Education Center at Southern Illinois Airport that will house the aviation and automotive technology programs, and the partnership with Shawnee Community College are both important to the program’s continuing success, Burgener said. A statewide capital construction plan includes funds for the estimated 249,016-square-foot Transportation Education Center.

“That gives us the opportunity for more people to see what we do out here,” Burgener said, noting the additional programs will result in 300 to 400 people at the facility on a daily basis. “The population at the airport is going to be increased dramatically.”

The increased exposure will assist in student recruiting, he said. The dual enrollment partnership with Shawnee Community College -- where students can earn an associate degree in aviation science before transferring to SIUC to complete a bachelor’s degree in aviation technology -- begins this fall, with aviation technology instructors teaching at the college’s Anna Extension Center, Burgener said.

Even with recent downturns in the aviation industry there is still a large market in certain areas, including military contractors, Burgener said. Many graduates work at Boeing, Rockwell Collins, and King Avionics, he said.

“Our graduates are still getting jobs. There are still openings out there,” he said.

The program’s success also resulted in numerous internship agreements with companies that include Boeing, AAR Corp., American Airlines, Rockwell Collins, and Southwest Airlines. Nine out of 10 times those internships result in jobs.

“These companies know we are going to send them good students and they end up getting hired,” Burgener said.