Academic, business aviation combine

Allison Borgelt and Allison Borgelt

Aviation students at the University are being given the opportunity to network with business aviation companies and potentially gain co-ops and jobs with them, thanks to the Ohio Aerospace Initiative (OAI), a cooperative initiative between academic institutions, the state of Ohio and Ohio’s business aviation industry.’ ‘ The OAI, whose one-year anniversary is approaching in May, was created so Ohio’s business aviation industry and the state of Ohio could work together ‘to align aviation education objectives with the needs of business aviation industry challenges and opportunities of tomorrow,’ according to the initiative’s mission statement. Academic institutions (seven total, all of which have aviation as part of their curriculums), along with business aviation companies and members of the Ohio Board of Regents, attend periodic OAI meetings at the institutions in order to reach their mission’s goals. The meetings allow institutions to share about their facilities and programs and discuss the status of new, stand-alone business aviation courses that have been implemented at each institution since the OAI was formed. The meetings also include question-and-answer sessions with the business aviation companies, according to Royce Ann Martin, associate professor of aviation studies at the University and member of the Board of Directors for the Ohio Regional Business Aviation Association (ORBAA). The most recent meeting was hosted by Sinclair Community College April 3, and one was hosted by the University Sept. 19, 2008. David Vornholt, president of ORBAA, said the stand-alone business aviation courses at the institutions are in progress, and that they expose students to the business of aviation and airport management. The courses are meant ‘to broaden the base of the students’ knowledge on the bigger aviation industry, beyond just the airlines,’ he said. The University offered a business aviation course before the initiative was created, but the course’s content was revised afterward, according to Martin. She will teach the revised version of the course, which will be offered for the first time this fall.’ ‘ ‘It [the original course] was on the books and it had been taught, but it wasn’t required,’ Martin said. She explained that the course was tweaked to better teach students about the business aviation career path and to meet business aviation company recommendations to include the teaching of customer service and other social interaction skills. The new version is not yet required of aviation students, but Martin said the revision to the curriculum checksheets to make it a requirement is already in progress. The OAI has provided and will continue to provide aviation students with many opportunities beyond textbook learning, Martin said. ‘To have the initiative [meeting] at Bowling Green, I had to call a lot of business aviation companies I didn’t even know,’ she said. ‘I got to know a whole lot of business aviation companies.” ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ Some of Martin’s newfound OAI contacts have spoken in University aviation classes and sent her e-mails about new regulations and ‘hot issues’ to share with students. In addition, Martin and some of her aviation students in a safety course had the opportunity to work with three of her contact companies in Columbus last semester. Martin said the students wrote to the companies, were mentored by them, and had the opportunity to visit them. While visiting the companies, the students participated in case scenarios and toured their facilities, she said.’ ‘ ‘The students got an inside look at business aviation,’ Martin said. ‘That’s a big thing, because now [they] see the difference, if [they] see that job versus airline [jobs] and all the skills required.’ Ultimately, Martin said the OAI-initiated networking opportunities can lead to business aviation co-ops and jobs for students. ‘Obviously, if I have contacts now with all of these people, when they want somebody they’ll call me, or I’ll call them,’ she said. Martin said she doesn’t know of any University students who have gained co-ops or jobs through the new contacts yet. The OAI is just shy of one year old, though, and Martin said it is growing stronger. ‘This initiative has not waned, it is not losing steam,’ she said. ‘[It is] getting stronger.’ Vornholt will be speaking with Martin’s independent study business aviation students April 21, and he also said the OAI’s work will help students find co-ops and jobs. ‘The bottom line is, they’ll probably find employment in their major a lot quicker because of the knowledge that they’ll gain of the job opportunities,’ Vornhholt said. ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ Eric Stewart, 37, a non-traditional senior majoring in aviation technical management, attended the OAI meetings at the University and Kent State University, and he is pleased with the initiative. ‘I think a lot more degree disciplines should look into something similar,’ Stewart said. ‘I think it’s a benefit to the students.’