October 07, 2010

Aviation career day on tap at SIUC

by Pete Rosenbery

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- The “outstanding partnership” with American Airlines continues later this week with the annual American Airlines-Southern Illinois University Carbondale Aviation Career Day.

And with published projections that show a potential worldwide need for more than 1 million pilots and aviation maintenance personnel during the next 20 years, the job opportunities appear great for the 110 Chicago-area high school and community college students who will visit the campus on Saturday, Oct. 9.

“It is absolutely unique for any university to have this kind of partnership where an airline provides a plane for a day, staffs it with the University’s alumni to fly down and show off the airline and potential careers to high school students,” said David A. NewMyer, chair of the University’s Department of Aviation Management and Flight.

Media Advisory

Reporters, photographers and camera 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. 9. Contact Lori Robertson at 618/453-8898 for more information.

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

“Participating each year in SIUC’s Career Day is a rewarding experience not only for the students, but for American Airlines employees as well, who enjoy sharing their passion for a career in aviation,” said Bob Reding, American’s executive vice president-operations. “Motivating youngsters and inspiring them to pursue a career in this wonderful industry is an important aspect of giving back to the communities that American and American Eagle Airlines serve. Recognized around the world as a leading airline, we are happy to support SIUC’s Aviation Career Day with the hope of generating even more interest among today’s best and brightest students in pursuing a career in aviation.”

Selected students will receive introductory flights in SIUC aviation aircraft. All students will tour the University’s aviation facilities and the main campus and attend a presentation with American Airlines personnel and SIUC aviation officials.

American Airlines Capt. Rich Mueller and First Officer Tom Meagher, both SIUC aviation alumni, will pilot the MD-80 from Chicago to Southern Illinois Airport before returning later in the day. Four of the five flight attendants onboard also are SIUC aviation alumni, as are eight additional American Airlines employees who will volunteer their efforts.

The aviation management, aviation flight and aviation technologies programs are within the College of Applied Sciences and Arts. This is the 50th anniversary of SIUC Aviation.

Sixteen applications came from Lyons Township High School in LaGrange. David Root, an instructor in the school’s applied technology department, said he’s excited about sending another group of his students to SIUC. Students “have been bouncing off the walls about it,” he said.

Lyons Township High School is one of only a few high schools in Illinois that offer an aviation program, with five different courses in Root’s curriculum. Offered at all four grade levels, the program’s courses include Aviation, Careers in Aviation, Introduction to Space Flight, Principles of Aeronautical Science and Private Pilot Operations, Root said.

The school’s Aviation Club dates back to 1929 -- one of the oldest at the high school. Many students in the club, which meets weekly, graduate and pursue aviation careers. Six of last year’s 14 seniors are studying aviation in college, Root said.

“The SIUC Career Day provides my students with a great opportunity to see what the industry is about,” Root said. “It opens their eyes to various aviation-related careers. This sort of event leaves a lasting impression on the students.”

Students will fly from Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport to learn more about SIUC’s nationally recognized aviation programs and will have the opportunity to talk with American Airlines personnel.

Four students will receive additional recognition based on essays submitted with their application, NewMyer said. Those students will receive a pre-board tour of the cockpit and plane from the flight crew, with two students flying first class to Carbondale. The other two students will fly first class on the return trip to Chicago.

American Airlines Capt. Jay Rud will be one of 14 SIUC aviation alumni now working at American Airlines who will be here on Saturday. Rud earned his bachelor’s degree in technical careers with an associate’s degree in aviation technology in 1983. Hired by American Airlines in 1986, Rud is a captain/check airman. Rud qualifies American pilots fresh out of training and conducts proficiency check rides on pilots in the United States, Europe, Latin America and South America.

Rud said that he and all of the American Airlines volunteers on the trip enjoy opening students’ minds to aviation careers. The volunteers “know they are showing these students one of the top aviation universities in the country,” Rud said.

“By bringing these young adults to SIUC we can show them more choices in aviation professions than we can in one day at most any other university,” Rud said. “It is difficult for most of these kids to see what professions are available in aviation around their hometowns. Hopefully this experience will assist these young adults in making their educational choices and ultimately their career choices.”

A recent news release from Boeing that cites Boeing’s Current Market Outlook indicates the worldwide commercial aviation industry will need an average of 23,300 new pilots and 30,000 new maintenance personnel annually from 2010 to 2029. The company is about ready to deliver its first Boeing 787 “Dreamliner,” and will soon deliver the company’s newest 747 version, the 747-8, NewMyer said.

Jobs in building, maintaining, selling and operating the planes will be available for students in school now, NewMyer said. The United States currently has the best-developed infrastructure for aviation training and there are now about 2 million aviation-related jobs in the United States, he said.

NewMyer said it’s important that students realize the hard work and dedication needed to advance in the industry. It generally takes 10 years of experience at smaller carriers after graduating from college for pilots to be considered by major airlines, he said.

The career day is also an important recruitment tool. NewMyer estimates that 10 to 15 percent of the aviation students who enroll at SIUC participate in an aviation career day.

During the day, several students will meet with American Airlines pilots to learn more about the requirements for becoming a pilot. Visiting students, aviation alumni, and American Airlines personnel will also receive an update on the progress of the estimated 200,000-square-foot Transportation Education Center. The facility, also at Southern Illinois Airport, will house the aviation and automotive programs. Construction is under way with completion set in fall 2012.

The itinerary for the day is:

  • 6:30 a.m. -- Check-in at Chicago O’Hare International Airport, American Airlines terminal.
  • 8 a.m. -- Depart for Carbondale.
  • 8:45 a.m. -- Arrive at Southern Illinois Airport.
  • 9 a.m. -- Group photo at planeside.
  • 9:15 a.m. to 11:15 a.m. -- Airport tours, introductory flights.
  • 11:15 a.m. to noon – Lunch, Southern Illinois Airport.
  • 12:30 to 1:30 p.m. -- Aviation careers briefing; briefing on SIUC. Lawson Hall, 151.
  • 1:30 to 2:45 p.m. -- Tour of SIUC campus.
  • 3:30 p.m. -- Buses depart for Southern Illinois Airport.
  • 5:30 p.m. -- Return flight arrives at Chicago O’Hare International Airport.

For more information, contact Lori Robertson at 618/453-8898 or by email at lrobertson@aviation.siu.edu.