April 21, 2015

United Airlines-SIU Career Day is Saturday

by Pete Rosenbery

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- For pilot Steven Lofgren, Saturday’s arrival at Southern Illinois University Carbondale will not only be a homecoming but literally “a dream come true.” 

Lofgren is a 1994 aviation management and flight graduate and former member of the Flying Salukis. He will serve as first officer when United Airlines flight 2072 touches down on Saturday, April 25, bringing approximately 120 high school students to campus to learn more about the nationally recognized aviation program. 

Lofgren previously flew for ExpressJet Airlines and was a captain on the Embraer 145 regional jet for 14 years. He has approximately 11,000 hours flight time. This will be the first time back in Carbondale in 20 years for Lofgren, hired at United Airlines earlier this year. 

SIU Carbondale is the only university that works with major airlines to fly students to its campus for an aviation career day. This is the 17th year for a collaboration that began in 1994; the program was suspended in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and resumed in 2007. 

Captain Chris Sheriff, another SIU aviation alumnus, will pilot the 150-seat A320 Airbus from Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport that is expected to touch down at Southern Illinois Airport at about 9 a.m. 

Media Advisory

Reporters, photographers and camera crews are welcome to attend the event, participate in courtesy flights, and interview students, faculty and alumni.  The plane will land at Southern Illinois Airport at about 9 a.m.  For more information, contact José R. Ruiz, professor and aviation management and flight department chair, at 618/453-8898.

Participating alumni include pilots, dispatchers, mechanics, flight attendants, and others.  About 30 alumni who work with United Airlines are volunteering to make the trip and talk with students.  The discussions will center on careers in aviation and at the airline, and there will be a campus tour, including the Transportation Education Center. 

Lofgren said his message to both students on the flight and current aviation program students is simple -- “it’s worth it.” While at SIU, Lofgren was president of the Aviation Management Society, a registered student organization, and was the first recipient of the Jerry L. Kennedy Aviation Career Advancement Scholarship. 

“It’s the greatest job in the world,” he said. “It is worth it to choose SIU over all others because there is no other place that can match the value that SIU offers. It is worth it to decide that United Airlines is the place for you, and even if it takes 20 years of effort to get here, as it did me, it is a smart decision.” 

The aviation programs consist of aviation management, aviation flight, and aviation technologies, all within the College of Applied Sciences and Arts.