Faculty Spotlight: Gregory Zahornacky

Greg ZGreg Zahornacky is an Assistant Professor in the College of Aviation and teaches the Aeronautical Science Capstone Course, Operational Applications in Aeronautical Science and additionally, Electronic Flight Management Systems and Crew Resource Management. Greg is also on the development team of the new Airline Operations Center that is being constructed on the second floor of the College of Aviation. Greg has been in commercial radio broadcasting for over 20 years and has his own show Monday through Friday from 5:00 pm until 7:00 pm on WIKD-FM 102.5 in Daytona Beach.

What motivated you to pursue a career in aviation, and when did you know that you were interested in that field? Who encouraged you to chase your dreams?

When I was the young age of 7, my father asked me if I wanted to go for an airplane ride at a local airport outside of Pittsburgh, where I grew up. My answer to him was a resounding “NO!” I was afraid to go up in “that thing” and refused to go. Fast forward 7 years, and my father decided he wanted to take an introductory flight to potentially attain his pilot’s license with a neighbor who was a flight instructor. He asked me if I wanted to go with him, and this time I said, “sure, why not?” Once we were airborne and flew for about 20 minutes and landed, I had made my decision; I wanted to fly airplanes! The aviation “bug” had bit me…HARD! From that point in my life at age 14, I had a defined direction and felt overwhelmingly compelled to pursue it. I thank my father and mother for their support, because without their encouragement (and money!), I could not have achieved my goal of being a professional airline pilot.

If you could go back to your college days, what would you do differently? Why?

If I could turn the hands of time back 38 years to when I was an undergraduate, I would’ve most certainly APPLIED myself more so! At the time I started my undergraduate program, all I wanted to do was fly, and I did not care so much about the academic portion of aviation! In the mid 1970’s the Aeronautics degree program that I was in did not have the classes that Embry-Riddle has today. I was never exposed to courses at that time such as Crew Resource Management (CRM) and Electronic Flight Management Systems, mainly because CRM did not exist and all of the flying that I did was in “round dial” aircraft. Today’s technologically advanced aircraft have “glass cockpits” which give pilots more pictorial situational awareness. The reason I would’ve been more studious is because I could’ve learned so much more from the professors I had at that time. They brought with them a wealth of knowledge, and I, foolishly, never allowed myself to partake of that precious resource.

What is the biggest highlight of your career so far?

I have been so very fortunate to have MANY highlights in my career(s)! In my aviation career, it was the day that the airline pinned on my Captains wings after passing my check ride on the McDonnell-Douglas MD-80. Directly related to that event was when I was able to take my parents and my wife with me on a trip with the airline, with me as the Captain of the jet that they were riding on! In my radio career, it was when I finally achieved my very own radio show after years of being part-time.  In my new career as faculty member of Embry-Riddle, it was the day that I got the phone call asking me to come in and interview for the position of Assistant Professor and the subsequent offer of employment. There have been many other highlights in each of the careers that I have had the honor of doing, and those would range from flying Hollywood celebrities, to flying charters with professional sports teams such as the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Washington Capitals. In my radio career, it would be meeting some of the biggest names in the recording industry from REO Speedwagon to Aaron Tippin. In my current career as an Assistant Professor, the highlight would have to be the students. I have met so many fine young men and women. They remind me of myself at their age, because you can see the wants and desires in their eyes to be airline, corporate or military pilots. I have been able to watch their progression from graduation to airline pilot status in just a few short years. The gratification of knowing that I may have had some small part in their success is a feeling unlike any other. I am proud of every single one of our graduates; they are focused and resolute in their career paths.

What are your plans for the future?

My plans for the future would be to continually educate myself and stay in touch with the airline industry as a whole. Through the power of networking, I have been able to stay in touch with many of my colleagues that are still flying for a living. By keeping in touch with them, I am able to see and understand what the airlines are doing in terms of their economic trends and the type of aircraft they are flying. This allows me to deliver the most recent and up to date information to my students so that when they leave Embry-Riddle to pursue their passions they are familiar with those trends. Other than that, I have found a home with Embry-Riddle. The colleagues that I work with are all consummate professionals, and I enjoy working with them on a daily basis.

Internship Resources

By Sandi Ohman

thCA5BNMPOWhile it is extremely cold right now, even here in Florida, the summer is quickly approaching.  As students contemplate their summer plans, for some, an internship opportunity is high on the list. Many though don’t know how to start the search process for identifying internships.  Below is a list of resources to use to find internship opportunities:

  1. The Career Services Office (CSO) – The CSO at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University (ERAU) advertises internships through the career management system, EagleHire Network.  This is an excellent resource to consider for internship opportunities.  CSO partners with employers to advertise opportunities through EagleHire Network.  These companies are interested in ERAU students, so it is a good place to start the internship search.
  2. Company Websites –  Many large companies have well-established internship programs and choose to advertise internship opportunities on their company websites. Make sure to follow all application requirements and provide requested documents, since this shows the employer the applicant can follow directions.
  3. The Internet – Search engines such as Google, Indeed.com, SimplyHired.com, Careerbuilder.com are good internet resources to search for internships.  Another resource is CareerShift.  This is an employment research tool for students and alumni to use when researching opportunities.  The Career Services Office has purchased the required membership needed to use CareerShift.  The log-in page can be found embedded in the home page of the student/alumni part of EagleHire Network.  Make sure to follow account creation/log-in instructions located in the CareerShift box.  There are also numerous internet resources listed on the Useful Links page of the Career Services website.
  4. Faculty – Faculty are excellent resources in the internship search.  Many have worked in industry, and they have contacts and companies contact them about open positions.
  5. Network(ing)Quintiessential Careers recently wrote in their blog that networking is one of the best ways to find out about opportunities.  So, let others know of your interest to find an internship in a specific field.  Also, LinkedIn is another networking source.  LinkedIn is a professional social networking internet resource.  Users can search for alumni that work at the company they are interested in, search for internships advertised through LinkedIn, or other contacts in the company.
  6. Career Fair/Recruiting Events – In 2014 the Daytona Beach Career Services Office will be hosting Career Week 360°.  This will be a week full of career-related topics and opportunities.  On Tuesday, March 4 and Wednesday, March 5, there will be an Employer Recruiting Showcase.  This is a smaller event than the Industry/Career Expo, but it is an opportunity for companies to recruit for internships and full-time opportunities.   Another opportunity to meet recruiters is company visits.  There are numerous companies that will come to campus to recruit, interview and hold information sessions.  These are good opportunities to interact with employers and learn about internship opportunities.  Check the EagleHire Network calendar for dates.
  7. Letters of Interest – Letter of Interest/Inquiry can be used to reach out to companies to find out about internship opportunities or programs.
  8. Previous Student Internship Papers – When students participate in an internship for credit, writing a paper about the experience at the end of the term is part of the requirements. Those papers are posted in the Daytona Beach Career Services Blackboard organization.  This is a good way to read what other students experienced on their internship and also find out where other students from different degrees went on an internship.

Students should use the above resources to research and find internship opportunities.  When applying for internships, make sure to customize resumes (and cover letters if requested) to positions, follow application requirements and submit complete quality applications.  This will increase the chances of obtaining an internship and gaining the experience towards a future career.

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.

Faculty Spotlight: Dr. Jim Ramsay, Homeland Security

ERAU Homeland Security program faculty

Dr. Jim Ramsay

Dr. Jim Ramsay developed the Homeland Security major at the Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University Daytona Beach campus in 2006.  He has a background in biology, chemistry, and health administration, with a PhD in population health.  He serves as program coordinator and teaches a variety of Homeland Security classes. Additionally, Dr. Ramsay serves as the faculty co-op/internship advisor.  Career Services selected Dr. Ramsay as our very first faculty spotlight due to the rapid growth of the Homeland Security program and the popularity of the degree.  He gives readers great insight into the future of the major and potential career growth.

Can you tell us about your background and what motivated you to come to Embry-Riddle?

My background is varied. I have a BS in biology and chemistry, an MBA in health administration and my PhD is in population health (a joint program at the time in preventive medicine and industrial engineering). I’m a certified safety professional and actively serve on several national boards, including the Board of Scientific Counselors in the CDC (appointed by the US Secretary of HHS), the ABET Board of Directors and as the Chair of the Education Standards Committee in ASSE (which sets the academic credentials and accreditation standards for health, safety and environmental academic programs). I arrived at Riddle in June 2006 to begin the Homeland Security academic program on the Daytona Beach campus. Coming to ERAU in 2006 represented an opportunity for me to build something special from scratch with no professional guidance, given that there were just a handful of Homeland Security programs nationwide then. This was a compelling challenge for sure.

As Program Coordinator, can you tell us some of the highlights of the Homeland Security program?

Well the first thing that comes to mind is our phenomenal growth. I was alone in 2006 with no students. The Bachelor of Science in Homeland Security program at Embry-Riddle now offers over 30 sections of courses to over 600 students/semester with 7 faculty. We have the BS in Homeland Security, a minor in Homeland Security, a minor in Terrorism Studies, a minor in Forensic Accounting and a minor in Cybersecurity. Next summer, Homeland Security will move to the College of Arts & Sciences and become a department called “Security Studies and International Affairs” with me as chair. We will most likely add several programs as well, including at least one new graduate program in cybersecurity and diplomacy, a new undergrad program in risk management, resilience and critical infrastructure protection, and a language program, etc. This and the fact that we are considered a leading and venerable program in Homeland Security across the nation where several other schools have emulated our program. I’ve also published how I built the curriculum in a peer reviewed journal (Homeland Security Affairs Journal).

With your background in both industry and academia, what advice can you give to students wanting to pursue a career in homeland security?

Stay flexible and eager and assertive! The field is always in flux. Indeed, just last week the Government Accountability Office issued a report indicating that the name “Homeland Security” is not uniformly defined in the federal government, even after over a decade in existence! Hence students who are successful are always improving their resume, gathering credentials and higher degrees, and keeping their skill sets growing. There are tons of jobs out there in this discipline, and students who are flexible and assertive will find their way to opportunities.

What qualities would an employer look for in an ideal homeland security candidate?

Good question. It rather depends on the sector, but there are the usual suspects of good writing, speaking skills, professionalism, integrity and evidence of involvement. In addition, I’d say employers are generally looking for strategic planning, economic analysis and evidence of critical thinking skills/experiences.

What do you see as the future of homeland security careers?

Another good question! I’d say that Homeland Security is morphing, even now. Environmental security, resilience and sustainability and human security will become more important in the next few years. Homeland Security at one level is a horrible name since most of what happens under the pretense of “Homeland Security” is not security and not domestic…careers in critical infrastructure protection, emergency management, risk management and cybersecurity (as well as information assurance) will be plentiful in both the public and private sectors.

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