December 2014 Graduates’ First Destinations

On Monday morning, the Daytona Beach Career Services team was at graduation collecting data for the campus-specific First Destination Survey. We thought you might like to see a sampling of where Daytona Beach graduates are heading after they walked across the stage at the Ocean Center this past Monday.

If you recently graduated from the Daytona Beach or Prescott residential campus and still don’t have a job, please contact Career Services for guidance and resources that can help you attain employment. Click on the appropriate campus link to view a list of services offered by Career Services.

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: 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.

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!

 

Advantages of Job Shadowing

By: Sandi OhmanJob Shadowing

What is job shadowing? As the name implies job shadowing is the process of following, like a shadow, another person in a specific job or career position/field/industry. For someone who is looking to find out about a specific career path, this is an excellent opportunity to see what the job is like over a short period of time. This activity can typically last a few hours, a day, or a week. Job shadowing is encouraged for middle and high-school aged students, as they learn about different career paths. However it is not just for this group, as college students, and people looking to switch careers could find this activity very useful. Job shadowing is also an extension of informational interviewing http://careers.erau.edu/land-offer/interviewing/informational-interviewing/index.html

The obvious advantage of job shadowing is that it allows a person to learn about specific career paths, as mentioned above. Learning about skills needed for specific careers is another advantage of job shadowing. An additional advantage is being able to learn more about a specific company and its culture. This could help determine if this is a company they really want to work for in the future. While this can be hard to determine in a few hours or even days, it is still a good view into possible career fields, which can promote further questions, research, and/or evaluation.

Where should someone start the search for job shadowing opportunities?

  • Check the Career Services Office for connections in the career area of interest. Many times they work with alumni in a specific career area of interest as well as companies that typically recruit specific career areas.
  • Local companies that offer careers in the area(s) of interest
  • If a current student or an alumnus, ask faculty who teach in the areas of interest if they would recommend a contact
  • Personal network – people know people in all areas of careers. Don’t underestimate connections!
  • Professional organizations could offer excellent connections for job shadowing opportunities – conferences, events, membership directories or other members

For more detailed information regarding Job Shadowing, check out the Quintessential Careers blog, Research Companies and Careers Through Job Shadowing (http://www.quintcareers.com/job_shadowing.html)

Sandi Ohman is the Senior Program Manager in the Career Services Office at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.  She has been with the university for over 9 years and has advised students in most all degree areas while in Career Services.  Sandi brings additional experience having worked in the finance industry for over 6 years in her previous career.  She received her Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration from the University of Florida, and her Master of Arts degree in Educational Leadership from the University of Central Florida.

Ways to Get Experience and Break into Your Career Field

By Lauren Burmester

Experience picIt’s a well know paradox in the world of employment…. You need experience to get experience.

Most employers want you to have experience in the field, but you can’t get experience until you work in the field. Here are some ways to help you gain experience and break into your career while still in school.

 Internships and Cooperative Education

Internships are the most common way to gain experience while in college. Internships are usually one-term working experiences that can be paid or unpaid, full-time or part-time. Internship eligibility varies by employer; typically companies are looking for above average students who show initiative and can contribute to the company positively.

Cooperative education or co-ops are typically full-time, multi-term work agreements with one organization. For example you might work for your employer the summer after your sophomore year, and the following spring and fall semesters. It is common in a co-op to rotate through different departments or projects within your organization. Internships and co-ops are a great way to learn the company culture and see if you the right fit for the working environment.

On Campus/Research Jobs

Working on campus as a student assistant or in a research position is another common way to gain experience in your field while in school. Almost all departments at a university utilize student workers. Find a student assistant position in an academic department that ties into your areas of interest to gain experience. Typically research positions are not highly advertised, so it is recommended to seek out a faculty member whose research topic is an interest to you. Additionally, organizations external to the university, such as research centers, offer undergraduate research opportunities.

Volunteering

Volunteering is a great way to get your foot in the door of an organization or career field. Volunteer work can be something you do as an individual, as part of club or organization involvement. You can develop skills and experience through volunteering that can be listed on your resume. Volunteering shows initiative which employers deem a highly desirable quality. Volunteer work not only helps you develop professionally, but can also be personally rewarding

 Student Associations or Clubs

Involvement in a student association or club is viewed very favorably by employers, and can be an essential qualification, such as leadership, for certain types of work and career paths. You don’t have to be president to gain leadership skills. You could be the recruiter, fundraising chair, an event planner, or secretary. The important things are what you accomplish and the skills you use and develop. Find a club or association that is relevant to your interests or career goals to further strengthen your experience in the field. Quite often members of student clubs and organization are invited to attend conferences, lectures, and industry events that can be a great opportunity to network with companies in your field.

Lauren Burmester is the Aviation Program Manager in Career Services.  She has been an employee with Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University since 2006 working in Advising and Admissions.  She completed both her Bachelor of Science degree in Aerospace Studies with concentrations in Aviation Safety, Space Studies, and Business Administration, as well as a Master of Science degree in Aeronautics with a specialization in Safety Systems at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, graduating with distinction.  Lauren’s passion for the Aviation and Aerospace industry is instrumental in assisting students achieve their personal and professional goals.

 

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

Alumni Spotlight: Lauren Clarke

Lauren ClarkeLauren Clarke is a May 2011 and May 2013 graduate of Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.  She completed her Bachelor of Science in Aeronautical Science and an Associate of Science in Aviation Maintenance Science with Airframe and PowerPlant certifications at the Daytona Beach campus.  She is currently a Pilot/Mechanic for Airtec, an aviation and technology integration company.

Tell us about your current employer.  What is unique about Airtec? 

As a recent Embry-Riddle graduate, I am fortunate to have landed a great job at a company called Airtec, an aviation and technology integration company in St. Mary’s County, Maryland.  I graduated from ERAU in May 2013 with a Bachelor’s degree in Aeronautical Science and an Associate’s in Aviation Maintenance Science to include my flight ratings up to Multi-commercial and my Airframe and Powerplant certificates.  The summer after graduation, I had an internship at Cape Air in Hyannis, Massachusetts, as a mechanic, and before I had even finished there, I had applied and been offered a job here at Airtec. Upon completing my internship, I moved to Southern Maryland and became Airtec’s newest employee.

Unique is an excellent way to describe Airtec.  From the aircraft we operate to the missions we fly, everything is unique. We fly support missions for organizations like the Atlantic Test Ranges, NASA Wallops Flight Facility, the Surface/Aviation Interoperability Laboratory (SAIL) and the Atlantic Targets and Marine Operations (ATMO) Division. These missions can vary from objectives like range safety and maritime radar surveillance to airborne telemetry. Just this morning I flew a mission for Dahlgren Naval Surface Warfare Center to assist in data collection to establish the floor of their restricted airspaces. These are just some of the countless ways that our clients take advantage of our fleet and equipment.

The fleet here at St. Mary’s Airport consists of three King Air twin turboprop aircraft, including A100, 200T and B200C models, a Beechcraft Baron, Cirrus SR22 and a few other exciting aircraft. These aircraft do not have elaborately decorated cabins with plush leather seats and a mini bar but instead are stripped out and equipped with racks of telemetry and radar equipment.  Some of our technology capabilities include APS 143 Radar, 360 degree belly mounts, satellite data link systems, L/S band auto-tracking telemetry systems and real-time communications relay. We have GPS moving maps, VOR, ILS, and ADF navigation equipment in most of our aircraft. We also have TACAN and aircraft carrier landing and approach systems, which are very unusual for a civilian organization. These aircraft are specially modified with 2.5 KVA, 3-phase, 400 hertz, 115 VAC inverters to power the radar and other project equipment.

Airtec hires and trains the crews that operate these aircraft. We have all-inclusive flight crews for our missions.  That is to say that we hire and train our own pilots, mechanics, radar operators and project engineers.  Here at St. Mary’s, we have 31 employees, plus twenty more throughout our projects around the world. Our pilots are trained on the entire fleet and are capable of transferring from one aircraft to another at a moment’s notice. With the wide variety of missions we perform, it is common, if not inevitable, that we rarely fly the same aircraft twice in a row. The mechanics are also capable of maintaining the entire fleet. This entails anything from repairing air conditioners (a LOT), to changing landing gear, to designing and installing the racks of equipment in the back, to installing the multitude of antennas that our aircraft necessitate.

Unlike most civilian operations, Airtec is a company that would be difficult for a prospective employee to prepare for. Those that come from prior military service have an easy time transitioning into the mission-oriented mindset that is required but have a more difficult time switching from the jets they are used to into turboprops and recip aircraft. On the other hand, employees with prior airline experience have less difficulty with the type of aircraft we fly but more trouble with the missions and the language used by our mostly military clients. As a recent Embry-Riddle graduate without military or airline experience, one of my challenges as a pilot is to transition into both new aircraft and military missions. As a mechanic, I also face a variety of challenges at Airtec. Mechanics with a history in the airlines usually haven’t worked on every part of an aircraft from tip to tail like we do here, and general aviation mechanics rarely have an opportunity to work with the kind of technology that we have on our planes. Military mechanics, as well, are trained in occupational specialties and would not be used to the diversity of maintenance functions we perform here.

Airtec is an exciting place to work and offers great variety for an employee like me with both maintenance and flight skills. No two weeks are exactly the same, and I continually look forward to going to work each day.  In my first job out of college, I am gaining experience in ways I could never have imagined and anticipate many years of interesting assignments.

LCAT2As an alumna, what career advice do you have for upcoming graduates?

Network! I only heard about this company by reaching out to the aviation community and making contact with the right person. Thanks to him, I got an introduction to the President of Airtec, Steve Bildman, also a graduate of Embry-Riddle. Coming in with a recommendation from a well-respected member of the Southern Maryland aviation industry gave me a great advantage from the start. After that it was a matter of being the right person with the right qualifications and the right attitude. At the time of my visit, Airtec was not actively seeking applicants, but as my boss likes to call it, I was a “triple-threat” by not only having my mechanic certificates and pilot certificates, but also being a graduate of the same school as both the President and the Chief Pilot. These three attributes, along with a recommendation from a dependable source, encouraged my employers to create a position for me as a full-time pilot/mechanic, a job that they had never tried before.

Had I been discouraged by the fact that this company was not actively looking for new employees or that my qualifications didn’t match those that the website dictated, I would never have gone out for this job. I am so glad that I did, and I encourage everyone at Riddle to do the same. Apply for everything and anything no matter what the “required qualifications”.  You never know who might read your application and think you could be the perfect candidate for any number of reasons. Take every sit-down interview you can get and don’t sell yourself short. You are coming out of the best aviation program in the country, and people in the industry know it.

I also highly encourage every student at Riddle to take advantage of all the training you can manage while you’re in school. And I don’t just mean in the flight department. Expand your horizons and learn as much about the entire industry as you can. If I had not stayed on after my Aeronautical Science degree to get my Maintenance degree as well, I would not have been considered for a position at this company. Even if you don’t do maintenance as a career, the understanding of your aircraft that the courses provide can give a pilot candidate a huge leg up in the industry to have that knowledge base. Even in flight, get as much training as you can. At Riddle I completed the Upset Recovery Training, gaining skills that made me feel like a more proficient and confident pilot. Finally, a note to the full-timers working in the flight line: Don’t forget that you get free tuition as a full-time employee. Don’t let that opportunity go to waste! Take advantage!

What is the biggest highlight of your career so far?

I cannot possibly choose one thing to be the highlight of my career any more. Every day is a new and exciting adventure in this company.  Being a new pilot with few flying hours and little experience, everything I do here is brand new to me. The transition into King Airs from Cessnas has been a big leap and is a change that I am still getting used to and will probably continue to get used to for a long time. They are great airplanes to fly, and I can’t see myself tiring of them any time soon. Almost weekly I set new personal records. I set new highest altitudes and lowest altitudes, fastest speeds and longest flights. I’ve had the opportunity to witness some amazing things in the short time that I have worked here. I’ve seen NASA rocket launches from 13,000 feet. I’ve seen an aerial refueling of an F-35 from a C-130 and seen an X-47 UAV flying with its chase F-18. Already I’ve seen and done more than I ever could have imagined, and there is only more to come!

LCAT3What are your plans for the future?

To be completely honest, the only future I can see right now is what’s in store for me at Airtec. I am thoroughly enjoying my work here, and I see a lot of potential for personal growth within this company. Right now I am SIC in all of our aircraft, so my most immediate goal is to upgrade to PIC in the Baron. Eventually I’d like to do the same in the King Airs, but that will take a while longer. I have already learned an immense amount about these aircraft from a mechanical standpoint, and I am excited to continue to do so. I think I can grow to be an outstanding mechanic if I put effort into absorbing as much knowledge as I can while I’m here. I am also eager to learn as much as I can about the equipment we have installed on our aircraft. Once I master the flight and maintenance aspects of this job, I’d like to explore the radar operator opportunities the company offers. It is very unusual for a civilian like me to have the opportunity to work around this kind of technology, much less to get to operate it. So for now my plans for the future are to take full advantage of all the opportunities this company can supply.

Alumni Career Spotlight: Steve Dorton

Steve DortenSteve Dorton is currently a Human Factors Engineer at Sonalysts, Inc. working on various projects, primarily with the Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) Human Systems Integration (HSI) group.  He is an alum from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.  He attained his Bachelor of Science in Safety Science (class of 2009) and Master of Science in Human Factors & Systems (class of 2011).  While at Embry-Riddle, Steve completed a safety coordinator internship and multiple academic projects, and he served as a graduate research assistant with the Department of Human Factors, researching integration of unmanned systems into the national airspace system for the FAA.  In addition, Steve was an active member of the campus community.  He served as a member of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society (HFES) and chapter president of the American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE), and he held multiple executive positions within the Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity.

What do you do as a Human Factors Engineer for Sonalysts, Inc.?

My job entails performing a wide variety of duties across an even wider variety of technical areas. Currently, my prime responsibility is providing Human Factors Engineering services to the Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) Human Systems Integration (HSI) group. In the short time I have been here, I have performed applied research and systems engineering analysis across a wide variety of DoD acquisitions and research projects. Whenever the Navy or Marine Corps wants to develop, acquire, or modify a system, I work with other researchers to determine whether the system adequately accounts for the capabilities and limitations of the warfighter. The systems I work with range from handheld radios to software suites, or an entire Warship. In addition to all of that, I am currently standing up a Human-Autonomy Interaction Laboratory and performing basic and applied research on autonomous systems and developing technologies to increase the DoD’s capabilities. At any given time, I am working on three to five projects across different domains, which makes my job novel and always interesting.

How did you land your position?

Allison Popola, a fellow Human Factors & Systems (HFS) alumnus, had introduced me to her boss at a conference we were attending. With her help, I was able to secure an interview and ultimately attain my position here. After a rigorous round of interviews, I was extended an offer, which I excitedly took.

How do you enjoy working for a small government contractor? What are the advantages of working for a smaller company?

I cannot stress enough how much I enjoy the freedom of my job, which is primarily afforded by the small size and flat, matrix oriented structure of my company. We adopt a “kill what you eat” mentality, meaning that if you find a project or funding areas that interest you, then you are free to lead that project should you win it. The outcome of this policy is that I am free to research whatever interests me, so long as I am willing to put in the work to find it. Instead of being a cog in a large machine, I am free to pursue what interests me and have a large amount of autonomy (pun somewhat intended). I also get to spend most of my time with customers, be it attending meetings, working in a lab, or collecting data in the field. More importantly in a research-oriented field such as Human Factors, a primary advantage of being with a smaller company is that it is much, much simpler to have Internal Research & Development (IR&D) resources allocated to a technology or capability you would like to develop. I have been afforded a great deal of freedom and opportunity, which I strenuously believe is a core advantage of working for a smaller company.

What advice do you have for Human Factors graduates seeking full-time work in the field?

NCM_0067Having seen a decent amount of resumes thus far, the single most important thing I can say is to highlight your experiences. Of course, the prerequisite for this is to get out there and do stuff in the first place. List projects that you have worked on, what your role in that project was, and the project’s outcome. It is far more important to know that you did a functional analysis here, and data collection there, than it is to know that you made the Dean’s list five times. Smaller companies that allow a lot of freedom are especially attentive to whether or not you have done research or applied work, so that they can be assured you are a self-starter and will not need too much supervision. Your resume should tell a story of what you have been doing, up to the time at which they are reading it. If it paints a clear picture and you talk to the right people, you can circumvent the tedious process of key wording and shamelessly jamming your resume with metadata.

Secondly, be passionate about what you do. I will gladly work with somebody with less skills and experience that is fired up over what we are doing than somebody with immense knowledge that does not care. When the going gets tough, the people who care are the ones that work the hardest. Science is a grueling process, so if you can convey a genuine sense of interest for your field throughout your resume and interviews, then you are going to make an impact on the people who are hiring.

Finally, be professional. ERAU has an entire department dedicated to doing nothing but making you marketable and ready for a career. If you pay as much as you do for tuition, then you should take advantage of these resources (that is, above and beyond a resume check before the career expo). In no other aspect of your life would you pay so much for something and then use such little of its features. Know how to write emails and letters to prospective employers. Have an experience-oriented resume that has been reviewed by experts. Be punctual and dress appropriately for interviews. These are all very basic things that somehow seem to be overlooked on a regular basis.

There are many other considerations, but those three things are the most salient advice I would have for somebody trying to gain full-time work in our field.

Alumni Career Spotlight: Todd Hillsgrove

imageTodd Hillsgrove is a native of Pittsfield, New Hampshire. He studied Aeronautical Science at the Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University Daytona Beach campus and graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in 1992. While a junior at ERAU, Todd was selected to participate in the Procter & Gamble Corporate Aviation Student Development Program – a one week co-op designed to give students an in-depth look at corporate aviation.

After graduating ERAU, Todd returned to New Hampshire to begin his flying career. He spent several years as a flight instructor and gained valuable experience flying more complex aircraft for local companies. In 1997, Todd was hired by the DCAir Company, LLC to fly a Pilatus PC-12 and eventually attained his first type rating in a Beechjet 400A with that company.

In the Spring of 2002, Todd was hired by Procter & Gamble and received his Gulfstream IV type rating soon after. Eventually, he added a Gulfstream V type rating and flew internationally as Captain on the G-IV, G-V and G550. In addition to flying, Todd accepted roles of increasing responsibility at the hangar – Safety Officer, Assistant Chief Pilot and his current position as Chief Pilot.

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