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!

 

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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: 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.

Employer Spotlight: Cessna Aircraft RSA Rotational Program

Old planeClyde Vernon Cessna designed the very first Cessna in 1911 — a monoplane of spruce and linen. Sixteen years later, Clyde Cessna put his passion for flying and his love for aviation into action, and Cessna Aircraft Company was born. Little did Clyde Cessna realize, he was establishing a tradition of change which would make Cessna Aircraft Company the preeminent general aviation manufacturer.

In Cessna’s first decade, the company earned a reputation for safety and performance that it still holds today. More than eight decades later, Clyde Cessna’s passion and vision are mirrored every day by the people who work for Cessna. Whether in an office or in the factory, every Cessna employee is driven by a spirit of innovation and passion for aviation.

Cessna continues to lead the industry in aerospace engineering for general aviation. From our first standard-setting monoplane design to our super-midsize business jets flown by the world’s greatest leaders today, our company continues to dominate the world’s skies. We attribute our ongoing success to the tireless passion of our people and the undying loyalty of our customers. Cessna is looking for the best, brightest professionals to join our team and work to advance our position as world leaders in aviation.

Please tell us about Cessna Aircraft Company’s Rotational Sales Program and Sales Operations Internship positions.

The Rotational Sales Development Program and the Sales Operations Internship are the first steps in preparing early career individuals for success in sales at Cessna.  Both positions provide an exciting and fun atmosphere to grow and develop within the Sales Occupation.

new planesThe development program features 6 unique rotations: Sales Operations, Jet Contracts, Customer Service, Marketing, Propeller Business Team and Jet Business Team.  Throughout each of those rotations, the participants will gain operational and business experience while participating in tactical day-to-day responsibilities and significant projects for the functional leaders.

The Sales Operations internship will focus on the Sales Operations rotation of the Rotational Sales Development Program.  Interns will have the opportunity to work along-side the Rotational Sales Development Program participants and Cessna’s top notch Sales Operations team.  This internship gives students the opportunity to gain first-hand experience supporting the zone field sales personnel by communicating with prospects regarding Citation Sales and marketing matters.

Please give us the profile of your ideal candidate for these positions.

Cessna strives to bring the best and brightest professionals to fill every position within the company.  Ideal candidates for the Sales positions possess passion, energy, drive and are self-motivated with high intellectual horsepower.   Aviation experience is not required to be successful at Cessna.  Instead, candidates should be inspired by a challenge and demonstrate an interest or passion in working in the aviation field.

What can a candidate do to be successful when applying for Cessna?

Candidates should be sure to highlight their extracurricular activities as well as their professional presence throughout the application process.  It is important that Cessna’s employees get a complete picture of the students both inside and outside of the classroom.

Students should remember that the hiring process is an opportunity for Cessna employees to determine which candidates are the most qualified and which of those candidates will fit well in the Cessna culture.  Students should also use the hiring process as an opportunity to judge whether Cessna is a good fit for them.  With that in mind, students shouldn’t be afraid to ask questions.

What is the best approach to a resume when applying to Cessna?

Resumes should be organized, clean and concise.  Students should highlight their educational, extracurricular and work experiences as they relate to the functional area in which they are applying.  For the sales positions, we encourage students to highlight how their experiences relate to the sales function, teamwork and customer facing activities.

It is important for students to remember their resume is just a snapshot of their experiences.  Candidates will have an opportunity to elaborate during the hiring process, so it is not necessary to add every detail to the resume.  Instead, students should add only the most important and most influential details of their experiences.

What additional opportunities are available for students and graduates at Cessna?

Endless!! Not only does Cessna have opportunities within the Sales field, there are open opportunities across the functional areas, including Customer Service, Engineering, Marketing, Finance and more.  New positions continue to be posted, so we encourage interested students to check the website often.  All open Cessna positions can be found at Cessna’s parent company Textron’s University Relations Job Site collegejobs.textron.com.  To view Cessna specific positions click Find a Job > Advanced Search > Recruiting Company – Cessna Aircraft > Search for Jobs.

textron logoThe opportunities go beyond Cessna to include all Textron Business Units.  Textron is the parent company of Cessna Aircraft, Bell Helicopter, Kautex, EZGO, Greenlee Tools, Jacobsen, Textron Systems and Textron Financial.  The Textron enterprise continues to grow as more companies are added to our family.   Students can explore positions at each of the Business Units, and their openings can be found by visiting Textron’s University Relations Job Site: collegejobs.textron.com.

Industry Spotlight: Volusia Manufacturers Association

Volusia Manufacters AssociationWe asked President/CEO Jayne Fifer to tell us a little bit about how the Volusia Manufacturers Association can be a valuable resource for students and alumni seeking internships or full-time positions in manufacturing.

VMA was founded in 1980 by manufacturers for manufacturers. We provide information, education and networking opportunities to help manufacturers grow and succeed. We are made up of companies that range in size from one employee to over 500. There are companies with CEO’s, presidents, plant managers, CFO’s and HR managers and companies whose owners do it all. We have members willing to share their expertise in manufacturing operations, purchasing, international trade, human resources, marketing and more.

Tell us what is exciting in the U.S. manufacturing industry at this time.

The kind of media coverage manufacturing has received over the past 20 years or so has convinced us that America no longer makes anything.  But, here is the really good news -the United States is the world’s largest manufacturing economy, producing 21 percent of global manufactured products. China is second at 15 percent and Japan is third at 12 percent. This is according to the National Association of Manufacturers.

Nearly 12 million Americans are employed in manufacturing, and that number is growing. Many manufacturers that did move overseas are bringing their companies back home due to increased manufacturing and logistics costs and patent piracy.  In addition, Americans want to buy American made products.

What kinds of opportunities are typical within the manufacturing industry for new college graduates?

The opportunities in manufacturing are limitless.  For example:

Manufacturing

  • CNC Machinists & Programmers
  • Tool & Die Makers & Apprentices
  • Die Setters
  • Maintenance Technicians
  • Quality Inspectors
  • Press Operators

Engineering

  • Design
  • Electrical
  • Estimation
  • Lean
  • Manufacturing
  • Mechanical
  • Process
  • Quality Assurance
  • Research & Development

Business

  • Shipping & Receiving
  • Material
  • Handling
  • Production Control
  • Supply Chain Management
  • Project Management
  • Trade Compliance
  • Purchasing
  • Accounting
  • Sales
  • Marketing
  • Customer Care
  • Information Technology
  • Human Resources

What advice can you give for students interested in a career in manufacturing?

Manufacturers are looking for people with critical thinking skills; systems thinkers -people that can design and implement failure proof systems; work in teams; and communicate effectively.  These skills are hard to find now, so develop these;  it will make the difference to achieving career success or failure.

How can students and alumni learn more about manufacturers in Volusia county?

There are over 400 manufacturers in Volusia and Flagler counties. The Volusia Manufacturers Association (VMA) offers many opportunities to learn about the area manufacturers.

Students, alumni and faculty are all welcome to  attend the Manufacturers Showcase on October 3 from 3:00-7:30 PM at the Ocean Center; to attend monthly plant tours – the next one is at Raydon Corp on October 17th; go to the Advanced Technology College on Williamson and LPGA and view the Manufacturing Career Display Boards – the only place in Volusia County to see what over 25 companies produce and the careers they have available (more on the way everyday); volunteer like the students in RAER, who are designing and judging the 1st VMA Robotics Competition at the Manufacturers Showcase; or get involved with the VMA  marketing competition.

Go to www.VMAonline and learn about the manufacturing community and search for specific companies.

The Volusia Manufacturers Association (VMA)  is the ONLY trade association for manufacturers in Volusia and Flagler counties and the surrounding areas!

Manufacturers are very interested in providing internships, externships and co-ops for ERAU students.  We want you to get to know us.

Industry Spotlight: Industrial Automation and Material Handling

Blake Bearden, DB 2006

Blake Beardon, WW 2006

Blake Bearden is a 2006 graduate of Embry-Riddle’s Master of Business Administration in Aviation degree and a former USAF officer. While in the Air Force, he worked as an Acquisitions Officer and was involved in the development of new radar technologies as well as the development of weapon systems to be employed in space force application. Upon finishing up his service in the Air Force, he sought out a career which would not only pique his interest in emerging technologies, but also allow him to employ what he learned from his MBA classes at ERAU in the business world. Blake was given the opportunity to manage operations on the West Coast for Bastian Solutions, a leading system integrator of material handling systems.

Why did you pursue a career in the material handling industry?

Actually I knew very little about the material handling industry prior to beginning work with Bastian. My undergraduate degree in Human Factors Engineering gave me a good working understanding in optimization of the workplace for employees. The material handling career field built upon that foundation and has allowed for me to help other companies continue remaining competitive in their respective industries through use of automation technologies. I truly enjoy seeing our systems helping our customers and making them more productive and efficient in their respective markets. Knowing that we make a difference for so many companies is a very rewarding experience.

How does material handling and facility automation allow companies to be more competitive?

With today’s rapidly evolving global economy, increased competition, and expanding markets, business owners can no longer simply raise prices to improve profitability if they also desire an increased market share. Companies that desire complete success, no matter which industrial sector they may reside, are searching for ways to improve productivity, increase quality, and grow overall profitability by minimizing the cost of producing, storing, or moving their product. These goals create a burning desire for business owners to find every competitive edge possible, many times resulting in automation of their facility. With a career in facility automation, you will assist companies in more productive movement of their product through the application of Conveyor Systems and Robotics. Proper implementation of automation not only reduces labor costs, it also minimizes inefficiencies typically involved where operations are more manually intensive. It also allows companies to provide better service to their customers, shipping orders faster while minimizing order error rates.

What do you like most about your job?

I am very fortunate to work with a great group of people. The friendships and camaraderie that I share with my employees and fellow managers are what I cherish most of all. Aside from that, a career in this industry affords engineers the chance to work in just about every industry in the market. One day I may be helping an aerospace client implement an automated storage and retrieval system used in a highly specialized manufacturing environment while tomorrow I might be helping a clothing retailer or customer involved in food and beverage production with expanding their system. No two days are ever the same!

What advice can you give for students interested in a career in material handling?

Seek an internship with a material handling system integrator and get your feet wet in the industry to see if it’s a good potential fit for you. We hire a lot of industrial and mechanical engineers to design and sell our system, though we have a need for controls engineers, software engineers/programmers, logistics consultants and project managers. If you have a strong desire to make a difference, this is a great industry to become a part of!

More about Bastian:
Bastian Solutions is an independent system integrator dedicated to helping our customers increase their productivity through proven automation, information systems, and sound operating procedures. Bastian has historically been an innovator in the field of material handling and controls, with recent advances including mobile robotics, PC Based Controls, 3-D Human Machine Interfaces and Browser-Based Viewing. Bastian provides innovative solutions for automation including conveyor systems, automated storage systems, robotics, automated guided vehicles and also provides warehouse software solutions such as Warehouse Management Software (WMS) and Warehouse Controls Software (WCS). Learn more about Bastian and available positions for which we are currently hiring.

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