USU Represented at Women in Aviation Conference
Three professional pilot students were awarded an expense-paid trip, funded by Utah State University's Aviation Technology program, to the 2014 International Women in Aviation Conference. The women were selected to attend the conference based on academic performance and extracurricular activity involvement. The application also included an essay portion in which the students wrote about their career aspirations. The women students represented USU and participated in a variety of workshops and networking opportunities. Read about their experiences below.
Day 1: 3/5/2014
by Dezirae Cabrera
We left Logan for Salt Lake City Airport Wednesday morning. When we arrived at the airport, we got our tickets, checked our bags and went through security. We waited in the terminal for a little while and then were able to board the plane. Once boarded, we were lucky enough to have the opportunity to sit in the cockpit and talk with the pilots! It was really exciting to see all the instruments and controls that the pilots have to work with. I love knowing that one day I’ll know how to operate all of the controls I saw. After our connecting flight in Denver, we finally arrived in Florida. Since this my first time attending the WAI conference, I wasn’t really sure what to expect.
We registered for the conference and received our name badges and information packets. A few hours later, they opened the doors. It seemed like people were just rushing into the conference to experience the excitement. It was really awesome to walk around and see it all. The event was huge! So many different schools, airlines and countries were represented. I couldn’t believe how many different aviation related booths were set up!
The conference is only just beginning and I can already tell that this is going to be a super awesome experience. Being surrounded by so many women who are just as passionate about flying as I am is really inspiring. I can’t wait to learn more about the many opportunities that await me in aviation.
Day 2: 3/6/2014
by Sandra Vasquez
Our first meeting today was a general session. Speakers from different branches of aviation shared their inspirational stories. We had scientists, inspectors from National Transportation Safety Board, Federal Aviation Administration inspectors and the president of WAI, just to name a few. During this session we also had time to meet people from corporate aviation who talked to us about the many opportunities the industry has to offer.
After the session, we went to our booth; there we had the chance to talk to more people about USU's maintenance management and professional pilot programs. We had people from other companies that stopped by and let us know they are looking for pilots and asked us to spread the word to other USU students. We got the chance to meet a couple of pilots who work for UPS. We were able to ask them questions about their individual career paths and they gave us their business cards.
Around noon we attended a luncheon where we listened to Eileen M. Collins. She talked about her history with aviation and explained how she made it to NASA. She also talked about what it feels to be in space and what it feels to come back to earth.
After lunch we attended a couple of education sessions. The first one was about Pratt and Whitney's new engine, or what they like to call a "next generation product" (Pure power PW1000G). They talked about how this engine has a higher bypass ratio which reduces fuel consumption and noise. This new engine has a 72 percent noise reduction compared to the conventional engines. It was a really nice to learn about.
The second session was titled “ATC, my side of the radar". During this session, Heather McNevin from air traffic control (ATC) talk to pilots about the "to do's and not to do's" while talking to ATC. She explained that ATC is there to help pilots; their job is to make sure we arrive to our destination safely. She said that controllers have many different frequencies at one time, that's why their answers are so short and sometimes they sound a little frustrated. Where she works, she has up to eight frequencies at a time. This briefing was very entertaining.
After the briefings we went back to our booth, there we were able to tell more people about USU aviation before the end of the conference day. This conference is so much better than I imagined. The networking, the education and the inspirational stories are more than I expected.
Day 3: 3/7/2014
First off, I had no idea how much networking would help me in the aviation industry. The third day was one of the most exciting days for me at the Women in Aviation Conference. Each day opened with a general session. The third general session was different from the others. A lady name Robin sat down next to us on our table. She was a Captain for United Technologies on the Falcon Jet and a helicopter. I asked her a million questions and was able to learn everything from her life style to how she interacts with her corporate industry on a weekly basis. She gave me her business card and told me to keep emailing her until she could never forget my name. This conversation was definitely a highlight of the conference.
During this general session, several women spoke on their experience in the aviation world. Nagin Cox spoke on her experience as an aerospace engineer and the amazing opportunities she has had. She was a part of the engineering team that sent three robots to Mars. She talked about the robots like they were her own children. You could see how passionate she was about her job. The next women talked about her life as a pilot in the United Kingdom. Dorothy Saul-Pooley had a phenomenal story about her struggles being a female in a male dominated industry. Over time she came up with a very inspiring acronym to motivate herself.
D - determination
R - resilience
I - intellect
V - vitality
E - enthusiasm
After the General Session we were lucky enough to get a spot in line for the oxygen chamber. We experienced hypoxia and identified the symptoms we had while going through a hypoxic state. This was such a great opportunity because most people don’t know how to tell that they are experiencing hypoxia.
Afterward, I spoke to another woman from a corporate company. She worked for Home Depot and also was married with two kids. This inspired me, because I always like to know that a pilot can have a family too. The corporate side has worked well for her in raising her children. Thismade me more open minded to that side of the aviation industry. She emailed me later and invited me to attend a Women of Corporate Aviation meeting. This was for members only, but she still let me sit in. It was a wonderful opportunity for a young student.
I also attended an educational session on competitive resume construction. This was way more informational than I thought it would be. I learned so many things that were specific to an aviation resume. I was able to get specific examples of bad resumes and resumes that stand out among thousands of other resumes. I have full pages of notes and pictures of how to create an outstanding resume. I would have missed out if I didn't attend this seminar. Taught by Kathi Durst, 737 captain, fleet manager and the vice president for global strategies (she gets paid to help people create a golden resume), this seminar was more helpful than words can explain.
Along with all of these great seminars, I was able to walk around to many booths and meet the people I want to work for some day. I was alsoable to create friendships and made so many connections that will help me get to where I want to be. I’m returning with a ton of business cards and several new Facebook friends. Some of the women who added me on Facebook even and messaged me to ask if I had any more questions for them. I couldn't have asked for better a opportunity. All of the women I met this week have been in my shoes and they are so willing to help.
The last thing on our schedule for the conference was the Banquet. This wrapped up the conference and also feed our starving bellies. Everyone dressed up for the last hurrah. We celebrated the 25 anniversary of Women in Aviation. Before dinner, I was able to meet Peggy Chabrian. She is the founder and current president of WAI. I spoke to her for a few minutes, took a picture with her and then she gave me scholarship advice. Even though I only spent a few moments with her, I feel like she gave me so much. She is such an amazing lady and I will definitely be applying for scholarships next year.
I hope to return to the Women in Aviation conference in the future. There is no better feeling than being surrounded by people who have worked so hard to fulfill their dreams. We are all so passionate about aviation and I can’t wait to see where the industry will take me!