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College social encourages studentsCollege social encourages students

Aviation students packed themselves into a college social at Aviation Gateway Park during EAA AirVenture 2016, where they learned about new curriculum and career opportunities while devouring free pizza and soft drinks during the annual airshow and fly-in.
PSA Airlines handed out pizza cutters to college students attending a college social at EAA AirVenture in 2016. Photo by David Tulis.

With PSA Airlines’ booth set up in the center of the event, it was no wonder that their popular pizza cutter giveaway made many students stop and chat about occupying the right seat for the regional air carrier that has a direct link to American Airlines.

Before the last airshow performer had finished flying above Wittman Regional Airport, about 200 students swarmed into the July 29 event for free food and camaraderie when the doors opened at 5 p.m.

Institutions as geographically varied as Auburn University and Utah Valley University had representatives on hand to explain paths leading to aviation jobs.

Representatives from more than 30 colleges, airlines, and related aviation businesses flanked the students who devoured more than 50 boxes of pizza while literally rubbing elbows with potential employers.

College programs throughout the United States, as well as the airlines themselves, have begun to ramp up for what they feel will be a very strong market for future aviators and aviation mechanics, now that many seasoned pilots and mechanics who came of age after the Vietnam War are retiring.

Air Wisconsin first officer Joanna Marmon said she was encouraged by the turnout of young people attending a college social at EAA AirVenture 2016 in Oshkosh July 29. Photo by David Tulis.

Air Wisconsin first officer Joanna Marmon said she was encouraged by the turnout of young people. Marmon, who flies for the regional air carrier out of Northeast Philadelphia Airport, was decked out in a pilot’s shirt, tie, and dark slacks as she greeted students across from the pizza table.

She said her airline will soon offer a program “designed to help pilots with their financial needs while they are flight training because that’s such a huge expense” for potential career pilots seeking full-time employment after college.

“It would’ve been huge for me,” said Marmon, who paid for her college by flight instructing at local flight schools.

Recognizing the wave of popularity surrounding drones, several universities including Auburn and Kent State have already carved out special drone flying curriculum while others are just ramping up or have courses rolling out soon.

The Experimental Aircraft Association noted college students’ needs for additional resources and boosted its annual aviation job fair from one day in 2015 to a full week in 2016. Job fair attendees at EAA AirVenture learned interviewing and résumé tips, job search strategies, and how to understand the aviation culture.

David Tulis

David Tulis

Associate Editor Web/ePilot
AOPA Associate Editor Web/ePilot David Tulis joined AOPA in 2015 and is a seaplane-rated private pilot who enjoys vintage aircraft, aerobatic flying, and photography.
Topics: EAA AirVenture, Aviation Education Programs

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