Alumni Spotlight: Rick Uskert

Richard Uskert 2x3_6367Rick Uskert graduated from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University – Daytona Beach in 1996 with a degree in Aircraft Engineering Technology.  He is currently a Senior Engineer at Textron Systems Unmanned Systems.

What has been your career path since graduating from Embry-Riddle?

My career started during one of the slumps in the aerospace industry and I took a job with a company in NW Indiana designing industrial equipment. After a few months, I interviewed with a consulting engineering firm in the Chicago suburbs which providing structural and fatigue fracture analysis to the aviation industry, both commercial and military. The guys I worked for and with were brilliant, having written fatigue analysis and damage tolerance of structures content for several publications; however, I as a more creative person at heart – and still am – so post-damage analysis wasn’t a path I wished to pursue.

The next five years were spent working in the medical industry, designing instruments for minimally invasive open heart surgery, stents, airway management and many other products. As the company manufactured product for many of the big companies, such as Abbott, CTI and Stryker, I touched many products which were mainstays of the operating room and in-home care products during the 1990’s and 2000’s.

From there I turned back to aviation and, while working at Pratt & Whitney, furthered my education and career through a Master’s degree in Management and New Product Development at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Hartford, CT. During my time at P&W, I worked with a great team in the Compression Systems Module Center (CSMC) designing and analyzing composite components for the F119 and F135 engines which power the F-22 and F-35 aircraft.

My next hop was to Rolls-Royce in Indianapolis to design Ceramic Matrix Composites (CMC) components for the hot section of advanced technology gas turbine engines. The composite technologies used between the front end of the P&W and the back end of the RR engines couldn’t be more dissimilar and each had their quirks and limitations which needed to be accounted for in the product designs, which made each task challenging. Working at the leading edge of ceramic matrix composite technology application has led to a number of patent applications for our team.

Currently, I work for Textron Systems Unmanned Systems, formerly AAI, in Maryland as a Sr. Aero/Mech Engineer, responsible for managing project tasking and the associated resources to integrate new product onto the legacy Shadow UAVs, increase capabilities through airframe upgrades and provide product designs to future systems.

You have worked in a variety of fields, what lessons have you gained from varied experiences?

The first lesson I learned was engineering is engineering and the fundamentals are the same. Designing a product to save someone’s life in the operating room is not much different than designing one to protect a soldier’s life on the battlefield. Each project starts with requirements, progresses through material selection, design analysis and manufacturing. I’m simplifying here, but the fundamentals are the same; one only needs a willingness to learn the differences in materials and how best use them in each application.

With each employment change, I have been able to draw upon knowledge I gained from past experiences, all the way back to the beginning of my career, even though it has been based upon dissimilar products and/or industries.

I have also learned what I enjoyed the most, and personally that is working in a small company environment. Those companies are the most dynamic and they offer opportunities to act in multiple roles and to get one’s hands dirty building product. That has been most enjoyable for me.

I have worked with a number of great, experienced teams; resulting in products which have helped many people continue their own lives and professions. Because of this, I do not look for a greatest accomplishment in my career, as I associate that with an object and I tend to be more of an experience type of person. That being said, I have considered meeting soldiers who have stated that our products have been responsible for their safe return from the field as well as people which have used the medical products I helped develop as highlights to my career. Those instances act as reminders as to why I choose to work on these products.

What advice do you have for graduating students to be successful in the job search?

Everyone is encouraged to research the company and the job they are considering applying for as best as they can. Many times a job posting is very general, especially for entry level positions, so one should understand the type of products that company and/or division develops. Make sure that is what you want to work on and tailor your experiences to that company. It takes time and effort; however, it allows you to stand out as a candidate.

All companies are interested in understanding what you have accomplished individually and as a team member. Include two or three examples of this information on your resume in a concise manner. If you are invited for an interview, be excited about being there and confident in presenting your product: yourself. During the interview process, we are judging your personality and how well you may fit with those already established on the team in addition to your technical ability.

Finally, look for opportunities that may not be the vision of your dream job, as one does not fall into that position upon walking off campus. These other experiences open doors in the future, allowing you to set a path towards that end goal, as it changes over your career.

 

Alumni Spotlight: E. Blair Johns II

E. Blair Johns IIE. Blair Johns II graduated from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in December 1998 with a degree in Aeronautical Science.  Currently, he works at Envoy (formerly known as American Eagle Airlines) as a commercial pilot.

What are the highlights of your career so far?

The path I took to build my flight hours, experience and  qualifications opened some unexpected windows into an adventure I had not seen coming.

Flight instructing and getting to fly C402 at Ocean Wings in  Nantucket not only brought about an adventure as to where I was flying but also to where I was living. Had I anticipated where I would lay my head at night I believe I would have looked elsewhere. From a hostel to a hanger office and eventually a  bedroom in a small house, made for meeting great friends along the way, and certainly filled that adventure craving I so anticipated from a career in aviation.

Eastern Air Charter stepped it up a bit as far as the techniques of flying my first turboprop. The Cheyenne II was the perfect fit to not only fly passengers expeditiously to their destinations, but we flew the Cheyenne at all hours of the night as a transport for organ bank donor flying. We would get called out at night as a reserve crew might, and quickly get the aircraft prepped for the medical transport. We would fly to a city, pick up a team of surgeons, and fly to another city where a deceased organ donor was operated on by the surgeons. Once the surgeons were finished with the  operation, we would then take them to another city, where a patient in need was urgently waiting for the organ and surgeon team we flew back with us.

This type of flight operation helped me prepare for the airline world of sometimes complex yet rewarding commercial transport. Through my time at American Eagle, now Envoy, I have been challenged many times and have felt as though each is a valuable learning experience. Nothing can drive home a lesson better than being thrown into a situation with little warning and allowing your training to instinctively take over. From inflight emergencies to customer anomalies on the ground, at the airline, the training happens as much on the line as at the training academy. It is a true sense of satisfaction when you can look back at a safely completed flight and talk over the whole situation with your fellow crew members about what went well and what you all might want to improve on. It is surely a skill refining exercise to go through these unexpected situations.

How has your Embry-Riddle degree opened doors for you?

One of the first memories which come to mind about my time at Embry-Riddle are the friends and camaraderie a student is immersed in the moment they arrive on campus. The collective love of aviation was electrifying and settling into a new and unfamiliar life, from everyday living to studying, was immediately put at ease knowing I was now amongst many other enthusiasts. All of this fervor helped me leap into the courses with a hunger for all that Embry-Riddle could fill. The lifestyle of managing the class schedule with early morning flights was a challenge at first but prepared me for the sometimes demanding schedule of airline life. Juggling a schedule like this is part of the college program across our country at many schools, yet the structure I was given through Embry-Riddle’s aviation curriculum helped carry me through those demanding days.

What three traits or skills have made you the most successful in your career?

Perseverance: Prioritizing my goals and envisioning the desired outcome, yet stopping every day and taking in the realization that my current place in my career was the goal at some earlier point in life. This helps me reflect on and appreciate where I am in my career.

Empathy: No person is isolated from the rest of world, we all have relations with others and putting this trait into action helps interpersonal relationships grow exponentially. In the customer relation business airlines are built upon, this trait is essential to nurturing and growing our airline’s business.

Teamwork: From departure gate to en route to the arrival gate, the amount of planning and work that goes into one flight is astonishing when realized. In the airline environment many people are involved in the process of getting a flight off the departure gate on time and much of this goes understandably unnoticed to the public eye. We operate every flight with a concept known as Cockpit Resource Management (CRM). This is essentially a communication loop built with teamwork where each inflight and ground crew member is involved in a feedback process whether the flight runs normal or encounters any degree of abnormality. Put simply, CRM is the fuel which the machine of an airline operation needs to run successfully. With the amount of customers and employees involved in one day of an airlines operation, we would be hard pressed to complete it all without a good teamwork environment.

Are there any challenges that students need to be aware of as they enter the workforce?
Do you have any advice for students seeking positions in the aviation industry?

Changes are happening rapidly in the airline industry as far as the modeling of regional and mainline staffing and operation. New flight hour minimums and regulations have increased the required minimums an applicant to any airline must need, 1500 total time with an ATP. Retirements at the three largest mainlines; American, Delta, and United are due to produce an approximate number of 10,000 positions over the next ten years. The third factor of massive growth for the next decade is the new rest regulations now in effect, requiring longer minimum rest overnights which increases staffing required to cover the schedule each week. Envoy currently has a pipeline program in effect with various flight schools including Embry-Riddle, where an applicant’s total flight time may be reduced to a lower minimum. This program allows the hiring of an applicant before they meet the minimum flight time and subsequently working to gain the flight time before flying the line at Envoy.

A couple of challenges which anyone interested in the airline career should be aware of is the family dynamics involved with being away from home three to four nights a week. Whether you live in base or commute like myself, having an understanding spouse at home is something I am very fortunate to have. My wife Amy and I met when I was on my way to new hire training with American Eagle, so from the beginning she understood the dynamics of being apart for periods of time and was acclimated to this by the time we lived together. Leaving Amy to a house full of kids mixed in with her full time job is not for everyone, though I am lucky to have such a compassionate and loving partner who understands very well the life we as airline pilots live. In the beginning of my time at American Eagle, Amy would come along on overnights with me and got to meet the excellent people that make this job so fun. Understanding the day-to-day life whether on reserve or flying a scheduled line of flying was a good foundation to our relationship in later years. While we may be gone for days at a time, we can have three and sometimes four or five days off at a time, depending on the way we can move our schedules around.

Overall, it is a great time to get into the airline industry with the known turnover from retirements for at least the next ten to fifteen years. It will become a very rewarding career with the changes coming. The flying bug bites such a diverse group of individuals and that fact makes this job a very fun and interesting one. Some pilots started young knowing this was their career of choice, while I’ve flown with many who have previous careers ranging from Wall Street stock floor traders to Psychologists, making the switch and starting over as a career airline pilot.

I often remark to my fellow crew members that we have what I believe to be the best corner office with a view unparalleled. It is quite a place to sit, watch and reflect on all that activity encompassing that fond planet we soar over each day.

Alumni Spotlight: Kevin MacLean

Kevin McLeanKevin MacLean is a May 2001 graduate of Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University – Daytona Beach.  He completed his Bachelor of Science in Aeronautical Science and is currently a helicopter pilot for NextEra Energy.

What does your current role with NextEra Energy entail? 

Since 2006, I have been flying helicopters and jets for an outfit in Palm Beach, Florida called NextEra Energy. This Part 91 flight department has 2 Agusta helicopters, 2 Citation XLs, 2 Falcon 2000s, and 11 pilots.  The helicopters usually fly all over Florida and into the Keys, while the jets cover the entire North America, Caribbean and occasionally Europe.

Landing at a flight department like this was a career goal of mine. I fly the line and am also a Training Captain on the helicopters.I assist with new hire, recurrent, and instrument training. Interestingly enough, my dad is actually the one who first told me about NextEra’s flight department, having been and  engineer working with the company for over 40 years.

How did you make the initial transition from fixed wing to rotor?

My transition from fixed-wing to helicopters occurred six months after starting my initial fixed-wing flight training. Thankfully, my comrade Hugh, connected me with his good friend Josh, who was chief pilot for a helicopter company at KFXE in South Florida. Josh recruited me as an intern, where I quickly earned my helicopter ratings. In the year 2000, I was an ERAU student with a helicopter in Daytona. This served as my time-building flying job senior year and beyond graduation.

Based on your experience, what are the advantages of working in corporate aviation?

In my experience, corporate aviation is a real blessing. Each outfit I have had the pleasure to fly with has been like a small family with a very personal feel. It usually is a fairly low stress environment. Corporate aviation’s goal is to be safe, flexible, convenient, and comfortable. We often have very sophisticated equipment and there also tends to be a variety of destinations.

What personal attributes do you feel help to make one successful in the corporate aviation environment?

A good attribute for success in corporate aviation is flexibility. These groups are small, relying on the limited staff to do a variety of tasks.  A positive attitude goes a very long way. The flight crew is faced with new challenges best handled by the problem-solving personalities. Another valuable tool is the ability to work well with others, because everyone wants to be around quality people.
What advice do you have for current and future pilots seeking work in corporate aviation?

Emphasis on networking is huge advice for pilots seeking work in corporate aviation. Networking starts in flight school and continues beyond the time you actually find the job you are looking for. I personally have flown for over a half-dozen different corporate outfits, and each one of these opportunities became real due to networking. Stay in contact with your peers, and make new contacts: classmates, coworkers, social media, job fairs, internet research, and other methods.  Remain professional as you network and prepare for a flood of success.

Graduating Student Success Story: Krystel Parra

Krystel Parra is a recent graduate of the Aerospace & Occupational Safety undergraduate degree program at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University (ERAU), Daytona Beach campus. She is currently pursuing her Master’s degree in Occupational Safety Management at ERAU, Worldwide. Krystel also works full time as an Internal Evaluation Program Auditor in Spirit Airlines’ Safety Department.

KrystelBelow is a brief description of Krystel’s current position at Spirit Airlines and how her ERAU education helped her obtain this role:

As an IEP Auditor, I am part of the Internal Evaluation Program (IEP) in Spirit Airlines.

We provide a high level surveillance and evaluation of how well the company’s processes and procedures are performing in respect to safety. I work with Spirit’s business partners and Team Members in all types of operational departments to ensure that our customers get from point A to point B as safely as possible by performing evaluations, risk assessments, and providing corrective actions to the operational parties.

My Bachelor of Science in Aerospace and Occupational Safety degree gave me the tools that are required in the safety profession. While in Spirit’s Safety Department, I use what I learned in the classroom and apply it to the workplace. For example, when performing evaluations of workplace conditions, my knowledge of federal regulations learned from classes such as Environmental Compliance & Safety, Industrial Hygiene, and System Safety provide me the tools I need to successfully perform my duties as an IEP Auditor.

Alumni Spotlight: Deric S. Dymerski

Deric S. Dymerski is a December 1990 graduate from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University – Daytona Beach.  His Deric Dymeskydegree was in Aeronautical Science and he is currently President of Atlas Aviation.

Can you please discuss your career path since graduating from Embry-Riddle?

I started at the customer service desk for Butler Aviation at Palm Beach International Airport (PBI), and went through the merger that formed Signature Flight Support.  After a couple months, I was promoted to Operations Supervisor, and eventually Airlines Supervisor (mostly for a UPS freight and cargo operation).  After a few years, I took a job as General Manager for Hawthorne Aviation (which became Piedmont-Hawthorne and is now Landmark Aviation) at Lakeland-Linder Regional Airport (KLAL).  There, I was promoted to Regional Manager and covered four FBOs in Florida, two in Georgia and two in North Carolina.  After several years in the position, I left to form my own company and find an airport suitable for my own FBO plan.

After a year of doing some FBO consulting, my new company (Atlas Aviation) won the RFP for FBO services at Peter O. Knight Airport (KTPF) in Tampa, Florida.  We’ve now been here just over 10 years, and have a busy Part 61 and Part 141 flight school (Cessna Pilot Center), a full aircraft maintenance shop (Cessna Single Engine Service Center) and the full ground services of tiedown, hangar storage and aviation fuels.  We have hosted AOPA Expo and AOPA Summit at our airport, and continue to host several, large special events each year.  We have recently expanded into aircraft painting, and plan on a full avionics shop next.

Why is involvement in organizations outside the workplace important? 

I have been a member and attended the Annual Meeting of the Florida Aviation Trades Association for nearly 20 years. A few years into it, I was nominated to the Board of Directors, and learned a TON from the people I met and still call friends.  When it came time to start my own company, each service or vendor I needed came from my contacts within the organization; what an incredible support network for an independent company!  Once settled into Atlas, I rejoined the Board and am currently serving as President (we’ve changed our name to the Florida Aviation Business Association www.FABA.Aero).  Meeting and communicating regularly with other industry professionals (ERAU has a seat on the Board) is an incredible resource for running a business.

What has been your greatest achievement in your career?

Having come from a background of larger, “chain” type FBOs, I was warned by many that you couldn’t make a living selling Avgas, and certainly not with a flight school or even maintenance.  Many had the “gas and grass” mentality, and subbed out all the other services and just collected rent.  We now have a proven business model of teaching people to fly, then supporting our other departments by servicing the airplanes the new pilots ultimately buy (some simply continue to rent from our fleet, of course).  We have several tenants on their second or third aircraft upgrade since we taught them to fly.  We have made the “against the odds” business model work by hiring exceptional people and cultivating a professional yet fun atmosphere at the airport.

What advice do you have for current and/or graduating students to make them competitive in today’s workplace?

We’ve always appreciated ERAU grads and have several working for us.  More than education or experience (though both are factors), we look for a great ATTITUDE in an employee.  You should be willing to learn as you go, have a smile on your face and have an honest desire to help customers.  That will make both your career and the company for whom you work successful; I love what I do!

 

Alumni Spotlight: Calvin Hart

Calvin Hart graduated from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University – Daytona Beach in December of 2004 with a Master of Science in Human Factors & Systems Engineering.  He is currently the founder and CEO of Tent Limited. Calvin hart2

How has your career progressed and changed since you graduated from Embry-Riddle?

I graduated with a Masters in Human Factors and Systems Engineering and I continued with this after I left but applied the same principles and learnings to the software industry followed by the financial industry. Moving from Florida to Silicon Valley, California then on to Hong Kong for 5 years and then to London where I opened up my own Digital Design studio. Its been recently nominated for a few awards including fastest growing start-up. In 9 months since starting this company, the team has grown from 3 people to 45 people today. I have teams in London, Sydney, Hong Kong, Miami, Seattle and Mexico City.

What made you decide to take the leap and open up your own firm?

I was working in the Finance industry for a very large Bank and started to create my own products (e.g. Online banking tools, platforms for wealth management etc.) which I got funding for from the bank. Once I saw people/customers getting excited about the products I built and increasingly using these products, I decided to set up my own studio and build these out for myself. Its exciting, and every day is its own set of challenges and with this comes reward (and yes, a lot of sleepless nights!) 🙂

Please tell us about your company.

Tent Limited is brand strategy and digital design agency. We provide innovative solutions to organizations through customer insight, strategic thinking and crafted story generation and design that brings our clients’ brands closer to their customers. 

Although we are a diverse team, we have some remarkable points of alignment. We are passionate, self-motivated, excited by what we do and unafraid of finding, following or even trail breaking on paths less trodden. We work hard, support each other and take the time to recognize great efforts, magic moments and have fun. We work globally; based in the heart of the London digital corridor at Shoreditch but currently working across five continents with multi-national, cultural and linguistic perspectives to bring to light.

What would you say has been the secret to your success so far?

Wanting everything we do, make and touch to be perfect! For this to happen, you have to be really passionate about your Brand and surround yourself with quality people. I am a brand fanatic! My core management team is a highly motivated, self-driven team and they get rewarded based on how much friction they can remove from my life.

What advice do you have for Embry-Riddle alumni who are thinking of starting their own businesses?

– It took me many many years to take the giant leap, and although I always wanted to do it, I was in no hurry. I built up my experience and exposure and learned a lot of lessons along the way (around the world in the last 10 years). My passion is always to improve something ‘just a little’…..very incrementally improve things around you and the bigger wins will fall into place. Use each and every experience as a learning experience no matter how good or bad it is.

– Learn to recognize talent and associate yourself with talented people. This is the core of any successful business or venture.

– With all said and done, it is a lot of hard work, and in my opinion….. a wasted day is a day where I don’t see the sun rise. Long hours are a part of it, but a few years of long hours and it all starts to pay off.Calvin Hart1

Alumni Spotlight: Leland C Shanle

Leland C Shanle is a graduate of Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.

Shanle is a pilot, award winning author, and military/aviation technical adviser for the movie industry. His consulting projects include Pearl Harbor, Behind Enemy Lines, xXx, The Day After Tomorrow and Stealth. His production company–Broken Wing Productions–has worked on several aviation-based movies and series including the Discovery Curiosity Series; Plane Crash.

Shanle is the author of three books; Project Seven Alpha, Vengeance at Midway and Guadalcanal, and ENDGAME in the Pacific–with the fourth slated for release in 2014. He has also written for Aerospace Testing International Magazine and is a Contributing Editor to Airways Magazine. Shanle has adapted his book, Project 7 Alpha as a screenplay for a major motion picture studio.

Shanle’s lifelong interest in Aviation is a family legacy. His Grandfather was in the airline industry in the 1920s and two uncles (Bob USAF, Larry USN) were combat military aviators. Shanle flew naval aircraft in 10 squadrons; including the F-4 Phantom II, EA-6B Prowler and TA-4 Skyhawk. Attached to CAG 5, 11 and 1 cruising on the USS Midway, America and Lincoln; Leland flew 80 missions over the war torn skies of Bosnia, Somalia, and Iraq.

He got into the flight test world when transferred to VX-30, Naval Weapons Test Center Point Mugu. He flew as a Project Officer on various test programs and was the Squadron Operations Officer. Shanle also attended the Project Officer/Engineers and the Out of Control Flight courses at National Test Pilot School. He was inducted as a Full Member in the Society of Experimental Test Pilots (SETP) in 1998.

Closing out his Naval Aviation career with 600 carrier landings (200 night) on 11 different carriers; he continues his Aviation career as a Boeing 777 pilot with American Airlines.

Can you please discuss your experience working with UAVs?

I was attached to VX-30 and was the head of the QF-4 program. I had the unique perspective of actually riding in drones. Yes; I was a drone pilot…or Spam, as we called it. We would have to test the system, a UHF data link system, fairly archaic technology by today’s standards; by flying the pattern and doing touch and goes on San Nicholas Island off the coast of LA. Being in an F-4 Phantom while someone flew it from 75 miles away could be quite a ride. The runway on San Nic was on a 500 foot cliff; more than once I looked up to see it before crying uncle and taking control. We also had to test new software loads for controls/self protect modes; which also was quite a ride at times: stalls, straight up departures from controlled flight, etc. Being a UCC controller was a very perishable skill; it is the only thing I’ve done in my career as hard or harder than a night carrier landing. We used what looked like a simulator with a 5X5 TV screen; we landed on San Nic with just that little picture. At the time San Nic was a 5,000 foot runway due to construction, so we dropped the hook and took the wire like on the ship.

The drone was controlled from Naval Test Center Point Mugu with a range of 300 miles. It was an all aspect, fully functional aerial target. We could launch weapons or other drones and dog fight from the NOLO (No On-board Live Operator) QF-4. Our mission was to test new weapons systems and provide Fleet readiness. We normally used telemetry heads instead of war heads to save the assets.

We also launched and remotely or pre-programmed controlled other drones pictured here:

AS 16 launch

A QF-4N launching an MA-31. The MA-31 was a converted Soviet AS-17 Krypton missile. After failing to duplicate the performance of the Soviet system, when the Wall came down we bought a few.

aqm 37

An AQM-37 Super Sonic drone. We would launch the AQM-37 from a QF-4 Phantom at 1.5 Mach and 50,000 feet and then turn 90 degrees out and run like hell. Because the Fleet ships would then start shooting Surface to Air Missiles at it (had an old bud shot down by a CIWS once, he didn’t like it much).

c 130 with drones

A BQM-74 Chukar on a LC-130 wing station with another LC-130 in background. With this drone system we could launch raids against the Fleet.

NOLO F 4

QF-4N NOLO; (look close no pilot) over San Nic Island.

DSC00594

QB-727 and a chase C-337.

My most recent experience was as the CEO of Broken Wing LLC and droning a Boeing-727 for the Discovery Channel Documentary on aircraft survivability. We put together the old Point Mugu Team for that.

In your opinion, what do you think the future of UAVs will be in the United States?

So where is the Drone Industry going? There is one little problem with drones…they crash, a lot. Broken Wing is working on a project that shows some of the vulnerabilities of mixing manned/un-manned flight. Putting aside loose cannons who are flying drones illegally there is still massive vulnerabilities. Companies that are jumping into delivering products via drones will have a serious decision to ponder when the law suits start flying. Imagine a drone with a pizza and 6 pack dropping over LA like a stone; or one that has gone rogue getting sucked up an intake of an airliner on short final. Real threats.

That having been said; in low density or military applications I think the future is bright for UAVs. They will continue to be in great demand for border protection, observation for police/FBI applications and as a Strike/INTEL platform for all of the military services. From hand held airborne cameras for the Infantry to carrier launched Strike aircraft they will continue to multiply. The up side of unmanned flight in those arenas cannot be overstated.

Now for the 500 pound gorilla in the room: passenger aircraft applications. Personally, I would never get in one. From my perspective, having been one of the few people on earth to have actually ridden in one, no way! In the QF-4 I could take control when things got bad. Has your computer and/or IPhone ever just frozen up or done things you didn’t want it to? You see my point. Redundant systems? Google QF-72 (Qantas Flight 72) a bad system locked out two good systems and almost killed everyone on board.

Practically? Hugely expensive, drones have a very long tech-tail. Operationally? It would reduce the air traffic like a bad weather day. Airports like San Diego, Washington DC and LaGuardia could not be used due to the visual requirements on a normal day. Pilots make the air traffic flow in spite of how over loaded the system is. And on windy days? Simply they would have to shut down the airport. Even the most modern auto-land systems have wind restrictions that are half what the aircraft is capable of landing in (with a pilot).

In summary: imagine a QB-777 dropping on downtown USA some night? The company operating it would be out of business and Congress would out-law the systems immediately. Risk vs. Reward.

For more discussion about the developing unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) industry, tune-in online at 7 p.m. on Sept. 18 for the inaugural Lift, Off the Page roundtable event, featuring Embry-Riddle faculty experts and alumni working in the UAS field. Register to attend: http://alumni.erau.edu/LiftEvent. And, read the fall edition of Lift http://alumni.erau.edu/lift

Alumni Spotlight: Jesse Quirion

Jesse Quirion is a May 2007  graduate of Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.  He completed his Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering at the Daytona Beach campus.  He is currently the Interim Public Works Director for the City of Menlo Park.

Jesse T  QuirionWhat has been your career path since graduating ERAU?

I began my career taking an internships with the City of Port St. Lucie, FL while finishing my senior year of my undergrad Civil Engineering program at ERAU. I did not originally intend on going into public sector work when I started school but the opportunity came up and I gave it a shot. After working as a college intern for 6 months for the City of Port St. Lucie I was offered a full time job upon finishing my undergrad. I accepted the offer and joined the City of Port St. Lucie under the position of Engineering Intern which is a full time engineering position with the City. I held that position from 2007 until 2010 when I was promoted to the position of Traffic Operations Manager. Under the position of Traffic Operations Manager I oversaw 13 staff members and a budget nearly $2.9 million, I held that position through 2011.

In 2011 I was offered the position of Associate Transportation Specialist for the City of San Jose, CA. This position required a drastic change as it was in a completely new area and required me to move across the Country, but I expected it to provide me with new opportunities in the future. Then in 2012 I was offered a promotion to the position of Acting Senior Transportation Specialist for the City of San Jose, CA where I lead a team of 5 engineers and staff members.

In 2013 I was offered the position of Transportation Manager for the City of Menlo Park where I lead a team of 5 engineers and staff members and an annual budget of nearly $2.3 million.

In 2014 I was promoted to the position of Interim Public Works Director for the City of Menlo Park where I now oversee nearly 70 staff members with an annual operating budget of nearly $19 million not including our capital improvement program budget. In this role I am responsible for the following divisions; the City’s water/utilities Division, Engineering services, Capital Improvements Division, Storm water and NPDES services, construction inspections services, Transportation Division, Environmental Services Division, Transportation Demand Management Services, City building’s and infrastructure, the Parks Department, Streets Division, and the City’s vehicle fleet services including the police department and emergency services.

What advice do you have for students who are attending an aviation focused University, but do not want to go into that field after graduating?JesseQuirionWPTVStreetLights

I gained invaluable skills sets from attending an aeronautical based university that I would have not captured would I have attended a traditional educational institute. For example my Civil Engineering program provided me with the skills sets needed to perform in a municipal engineering capacity but also provided me with the framework to understand airport design operations and aircraft construction which proved to be an assets with the City of San Jose which oversees the Mineta San Jose International Airport. I believe that diversifying your education and openings your eyes to all skill sets and experiences is the only way to succeed and set yourself apart from the pack in today’s economy. I am grateful for the aviation focus that I received at ERAU as that experience coupled with my work background and management experience has and will continue to open doors for me and may lead to opportunities for me to reenter the aviation field in a management role down the road.

What has been your greatest accomplishment in your professional career?

No matter what level or position I have held I have continued to seek out new opportunities to grow my knowledge base. During my time with the City of Port St. Lucie I completed a Master of Public Administration from Nova South Eastern University, during my time with the City of San Jose I joined the San Jose Chamber of Commerce where I was appointed to the role of Board Chair with the Young professionals and Board member for the Chamber of Commerce, today I am evaluating opportunities to continue my education and I may began working a doctorate degree in the near future. With that, I would say that my greatest accomplishment has been my ability to multitask between a work-life balance while continue to look for opportunities to gain new skills and networking opportunities.

 What are your plans for the future?

I plan to continue my growth within the municipal field while always taking advantage of opportunities to learn and better myself.  Jesse Q1

 

Alumni Spotlight: Derrek Ehrlich

DerrekErlichDerrek Ehrlich graduated from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University – Daytona Beach in December 2011 with a Bachelor of Science in Engineering Physics.  He is currently working as a Systems Integration Engineer at Rockwell Collins.

Discuss your current position with Rockwell Collins. 

Currently, I am working as a systems integration engineer at Rockwell Collins.  In short, I help integrate and test all of the sub-systems for the Mitsubishi Regional Jet and Bombardier C-Series commercial avionics systems.  Our engineering team is the last team to touch the avionics system before it is uploaded to the aircraft.

What are some of your top tips for successful networking for students? 

From a networking standpoint, there is a lot that I look back on my time at ERAU and wish I would have done.  This that I feel like I was not pushed hard enough to do.  For one, any internship/co-op that you receive can be infinitely helpful in landing your first job, whether that be through the company you actually interned for or the work experience you gained that makes you look far more attractive to another employer.  Networking strategies can also be used to accomplish this.  My biggest tip I can give you, that can be done right now and on campus is to BE ACTIVE.  Yes, doing homework and studying is important, but aside from helping make you a more well-rounded person, campus activities, whether that be SGA, Greek Life, academic clubs, social clubs, or athletic clubs, can all be beneficial to landing your first gig.  These activities can strengthen a resume, but they will also introduce you to more senior individuals at ERAU.  Once these individuals graduate, they will obtain a job, and you never know who it might be that helps you land your first one.  Knowing anyone in the industry can be infinitely helpful.

Another suggestion I have is to get out to any conferences or competitions where there will be individuals in your prospective industry present.  Yes, ERAU is a great school and has great teachers, but I have very much realized that, at the end of the day, it is about who you know and not what you know.  Fortunately, another great aspect about going to a well-known and respected school is that you have more opportunities to take advantage of better networking connections, so don’t let that go to waste!

Since you recently graduated in Dec. 2011, what timely advice do you have for current students who will be graduating in the next few years? 

Nowadays, internships and/or co-ops can be worth their weight in gold in obtaining your first job.  Don’t slack off on getting one of these!  Engineering jobs are plentiful, but you still need to look attractive to prospective employers, as not “just anyone” is hired.  Also, numbers can be key.  If there is a specific company you want to work for more than others, that is great!  Apply for lots of positions with them, learn about the company, and try to make any connections you can, but on a similar note, do not put all your eggs in one basket.  There are countless companies out there looking for young talent.  Never stop applying!

What are your future plans with Rockwell Collins? 

One of the things I love the most about Rockwell Collins is the flexibility they allow you in defining your career path.  I plan on eventually using their tuition reimbursement program to get my MBA from University of Iowa (a very good, nationally ranked MBA program) and work on moving up into engineering management.

Graduating Student Success Story: Arjun Gupta

Arjun Gupta recently graduated from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in December 2013.  He completed the Bachelor of Science in Business Administration degree at the Daytona Beach campus.  He was an active campus leader, part of the Honors Program, on the Dean’s List, a tutor and more.  He completed two internships, one at Lufthansa Systems and one at Capgemini S.A.   He also completed numerous projects while on campus and made sure he participated in career development activities.  Arjun was an example student and job seeker.  He took advantage of many opportunities while in school while maintaining excellence throughout this campus experience.  Arjun recently accepted a Revenue Analyst position with United Airlines in Chicago, IL.  He made plans to continue his education and complete a master’s degree while working and to keep flying for fun.

As a graduating student, Arjun successfully navigated the career development and job search process.  He had some advice for current ERAU students about their time in school.

Open to Change

When Arjun started Embry-Riddle, he had many ambitions, from being a pilot to working in sales.  It took a while, but he was able to single out what he wanted using the campus resources available.  Several of the opportunities he took advantage of were the Industry/Career Expo, company information sessions and College of Business activities.  It was one of the United Airlines company information sessions that first caught his attention.  He was sold on the discussion about their corporate culture.  Even though he came in with a goal in mind, he researched and found what he wanted, which was not exactly what he entered school considering.  Arjun emphasized the importance of being open to other ideas since students never know what they might come across while in school.

Network

Arjun actively participated in many campus activities. He took advantage of speaking to industry contacts, making friends with alumni and going to company information sessions.  He also attended the Industry/Career Expo, met employers, got business cards and followed up with them via email.  He enjoyed talking to them about topics of personal and professional interest.  Arjun was consistently involved.  He went to open house forums hosted by his college.  He was a member of the student Advisory Board for the College of Business, where he served as a student host to the Industry Advisory Board members.  Arjun felt he was, “lucky enough to get to do these things,” but he was diligent enough to take advantage of the opportunities presented to him.

Get Involved

During his Business 101 class, he was recommended by the professor to be a part of the College of Business Student Advisory Board.  He participated in Business Eagles, a program for high performing College of Business students.  He consistently volunteered; he was the Vice President of the Humanitarian Advisory Board.  Arjun emphasized that it was important to do more than just academics; it showed that he was good with time management and focused on supporting others.

Arjun also recommended several skills that he felt were useful for his success.

  • Time management: must come to college putting time management as a top priority
  • Organization: know your personal abilities and how to use them to keep yourself organized
  • Relationship building: get to know your professors, make friends and hold conversations

Arjun offered several additional tips for job search success.

  • Focus on getting recruiters to remember you, starting your freshmen year; Arjun stayed in contact with his connections and went back to say hello every time they were on campus
  • Create a target company list and continually evaluate the targeted companies; he looked at each company he pursued for fit, culture of the organization and how it related to who he was and what he wanted
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