Thanks to an invitation from the Aviation Explorers Board of Directors, Southern Illinois University (SIUC) Carbondale’s Aviation Programs made a visit to the Aviation Explorers’ Base at EAA AirVenture-Oshkosh on the evening of July 29, 2010.
During the visit, a presentation was given on SIUC to the 100-plus Aviation Explorers from 12 Aviation Explorer Posts in eight states who were camped at the Explorer Base for the week.
The evening also included an SIUC Aviation Alumni gathering at the Explorer Base for SIUC Aviation alumni attending EAA AirVenture. Since 2010 is the 50th Anniversary of SIUC Aviation’s founding, the alumni gathering was a great opportunity to celebrate this important milestone at the world’s largest aviation convention.
Aviation Explorer Post 731 from Springfield, Illinois, prepared a grilled pork chop dinner with all the trimmings. The advisor for the post is Jim Bildilli, who is also a member of SIUC’s Aviation Advisory Committee. Anniversary cake and ice cream topped off the dinner.
In attendance were several SIUC Aviation personnel who represented the various program areas. Mike Burgner heads-up the Department of Aviation Technologies, David Jaynes, Field Representative and Advisor of SIUC’s Aviation Flight Program, and Dr. David NewMyer, with the Department of Aviation Management and Flight. The spectrum of aviation degree programs offered at SIUC is quite diverse and covers many interests and subject areas including:
• AAS in Aviation Flight, leading to the FAA Commercial Certificate with Instrument and Multi Engine Ratings. Advanced flight coursework is available in Flight Instructor training; Multi-Engine flight time building (“Practicum in Air Carrier Operations); Turbine Transition; and glass cockpit experience in a Frasca 172 TruFlite FTD.
• B. S. in Aviation Management. Most students with the AAS in Aviation Flight take this degree as a “capstone” baccalaureate degree that prepares them for the aviation industry in general with courses such as Airline Management, Aviation Industry Regulation, Airport Management and Air Transport Labor Relations. This degree also includes minors in Airport Management and Planning and Aircraft Product Support with a minor in Air Traffic Control coming in the fall, 2011.
• B. S. in Aviation Technologies with specializations in Aircraft Maintenance, Helicopter Maintenance and Aviation Electronics (Avionics). All students take the basic Airframe and Power Plant Mechanics coursework in the first two years and a summer.
• Master of Public Administration in Aviation Administration, which is a degree that is geared for students with a goal to work in a local, state, or federal government agency that is involved with aviation or aviation policy and regulation.
SIUC Aviation student enrollment totals approximately 435 students. SIUC also operates 36 aircraft in its Aviation Flight program and owns another 25 aircraft (including a Boeing 737-222 aircraft donated to SIUC by United Airlines) in its Aviation Technologies program. Alumni connections are critical for current students, and there are nearly 10,000 graduates from SIUC Aviation, of whom 6,400 receive an annual newsletter about the aviation programs!
At the conclusion of the SIUC aviation programs presentation, SIUC representatives handed out free T-Shirts to the Aviation Explorers imprinted with the words “Aviation Explorers: Future Salukis.” Of course, the mascot of SIUC is a long-haired Egyptian dog called a Saluki.
After distributing the “Saluki” shirts, the gathered alumni and their families were updated on the latest happenings at SIUC Aviation.
• The Flying Salukis (the National Intercollegiate Flight Team from SIUC) won the Midwest Regionals in the fall of 2009 for the third year in a row (outscoring the University of Illinois, Purdue, Lewis University and Middle Tennessee State) and qualified for nationals. At nationals, the team placed 4th in the nation!
• SIUC Aviation entered three teams (out of 55 total) in the 2010 Women’s Air Race Classic (ARC) and these teams were represented at the Alumni Gathering by two of the teams: Sabrina Zwego and Heather Heidinger (20th in the nation), and Erin Jackson and Christine Zoerlein (9th in the nation). The other team with Katie Lake and Ashley Carder finished 12th in the nation. All six of these women graduated from SIUC Aviation and they are all current or former flight instructors in the SIUC Aviation Flight program. This year’s race stopped at the Southern Illinois Airport (KMDH), so it was a very appropriate year for the first SIUC entries in the ARC because of its 50th anniversary!
• The Transportation Education Center (TEC) is finally under construction at Southern Illinois Airport (KMDH). This new facility, when completed in Fall 2012, will add over 200,000 square feet of space for SIUC Transportation degree programs at the airport. The cost of the project is $42 million. To follow the construction of the TEC, go to www.transportation.siuc.edu and watch for updates or go to the web cam link to watch the actual construction!
Over 80 SIUC Aviation alumni attended the SIUC Alumni Gathering at the Aviation Explorers Base and had a wonderful time catching up on SIUC Aviation news and also talking to one another about their shared experiences in attending one of the top post-secondary aviation programs in the nation. For more information about SIUC Aviation, go to www.aviation.siuc.edu or call Dr. David NewMyer at (618) 453-8898.