November 10, 2009

Faculty member honored for aviation safety efforts

by Pete Rosenbery

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- José R. Ruiz, an associate professor in Southern Illinois University Carbondale’s Department of Aviation Management and Flight, recently received national recognition for his efforts in aviation safety.

Ruiz received the John K. Lauber Aviation Safety Award Friday, Oct. 30, during the University Aviation Association’s Fall Education Conference in Wichita, Kan.

The award “recognizes achievement that demonstrates clear advancement of aviation safety by an individual or an organization,” said David A. NewMyer, chair of the University’s Department of Aviation Management and Flight, and current UAA president.

Ruiz “is an established aviation safety expert and practitioner, with an extensive background in air traffic control, aviation safety management and safety management systems,” NewMyer said.

Ruiz received a grant from the Federal Aviation Administration in 2007 to produce one of the agency’s first Safety Management System, or SMS, plans in the nation for Southern Illinois Airport. In 2008, he served as a consultant in developing a similar safety management system plan for the North Las Vegas Airport.

SIUC was the only collegiate aviation institution to lead in the development of an SMS plan in 2007-2008, Ruiz said.

Ruiz also performed safety inspections at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University locations in Prescott, Ariz., and Daytona Beach. Fla. In addition, Ruiz also worked with Purdue University in reviewing components in its safety management system plan for their aviation technology program.

Ruiz served as a judge in the FAA’s national research design competition for runway safety.

Ruiz said he was surprised and pleased to receive the award.

“Having been involved in changing the way these airports approach safety issues and concerns is very gratifying,” he said.

The safety programs Ruiz worked in developing encompassed everything from policy statements to safety training, hazard reporting, risk assessment, safety committees, and properly documenting and tracking accidents.

The goal is to “change the way an organization thinks about performing its operational mission and giving equal consideration to safety,” he said.

Ruiz earned his doctorate in 2003 in education with a concentration in workforce education and development from SIUC. He has a master’s degree in aeronautical science from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University-Daytona Beach, and a bachelor’s degree in human resource management from Park University. Ruiz also has associate degrees from Park University and the Community College of the Air Force.

Ruiz came to SIUC in 1995. Before coming to SIUC, Ruiz served 20 years in the U.S. Air Force where he was an air traffic controller, a commissioned air traffic control officer, and a communications officer.

Ruiz received an “Excellence Through Commitment” top teaching award from the College of Applied Sciences and Arts in April. In addition, Ruiz has been at the top in teaching in his department four times in the last nine years and was his college’s teaching honoree in 2002.

Ruiz is the author of the 2009 book, “Airline Internships: Career Implications, Participant Perceptions,” which looks at the impact of airline internships on career goals. He is also the author of numerous articles and papers.

Ruiz and his wife, Lorelei, also an associate professor in aviation management and flight, live in rural Murphysboro. He has a son, Joshua, and a daughter, Allison.