Learning the Way the Aviation World Works: Battelle Center Students Experience Industry’s Embrace at National Convention
Taking a group photo after attending the Youth Luncheon sponsored by FedEx and hosted by the U.S. Air Force. Grade-school children, college students, and pilots and/or aerospace professionals occupied each luncheon table. The event allowed us to interact with potential aviation collegiate students along with experts in the industry.
(left to right) Christopher Jones: Vice President OBAP-OSU Chapter; Najla Dorsey: President OBAP-OSU Chapter; Letitia Calhoun; Dennis Scott.
O-H-I-O Proud in front of Minute Maid Park Stadium – Home of the Houston Astros
(left to right) Najla Dorsey: President OBAP – OSU Chapter; Dennis Scott, Letitia Calhoun; Christopher Jones: Vice President OBAP – Ohio Satety University Chapter.
Four Ohio State University students seized the opportunity to connect with current and future aerospace professionals by attending the 42nd annual Conference and Career Exposition of the Organization of Black Aerospace Professionals (OBAP).
Air transportation students Letitia Calhoun
, Najla Dorsey
, and Christopher Jones
and aerospace engineering student Dennis Scott
traveled to Houston, Texas for the week-long event.
Reflecting on the event, the students all remarked on its transformational effect (“mind-blown!”), which results from experiencing first-hand the breadth and context of the industry and hearing the wisdom of assembled professionals at the convention. This sort of learning does not occur inside the confines of a classroom.
Feeling embraced by the wider industry, Najla Dorsey recounts, “As a certified private pilot, I was more than inspired to continue on with my professional aviatrix journey after meeting these [female pilots]. I was finally able to recognize my unique value in a $664.4 billion industry (Air Transport). Having the opportunity to be educated and trained at The Ohio State University, one of the most distinguished institutes and flight schools in the nation, sets me apart from most with similar career goals. At the same time, I am on my way to being a part of a marginalized, sub-group of pilots, who must outperform the rest as to negate the assumption of affirmative action due to sex and/or ethnic background. My attendance at the convention has unpredictably given me educational tools unfulfilled by OSU. Those tools include meaningful connections made with women currently in my future profession who look like me and have similar life and flight training experiences.“
At the Convention, major aviation employers like U.S. Air Force, American, United, Southwest, UPS, JetBlue, FedEx, and the U.S. Navy were joined by regional airlines like Alaska Airlines, Hawaiian Airlines, Piedmont, Air Wisconsin, and XOJet. Other corporate sponsors represent the changing face of the industry as new technology is adopted, such as Amazon Prime Air and Walmart Aviation.
Noted Chris Jones, “The opportunity to network and talk to industry professionals with all different experiences was an opportunity of a lifetime. I had the chance to talk to people who looked like me, and were doing what I wanted to do. The journey to get to ‘professional pilot’ differed between each person but that was the uniqueness of the experience. At first, I felt alone when I came to Ohio state to study aviation however being a part of OBAP I was able to find other students and professionals who wanted to help.”
Battelle Center is dedicated to fostering students’ understanding of the wider context surrounding their engineering-heavy industry so that they gain savvy and an ability to navigate among the many disciplines comprising the industry. Battelle Center trained the students in some communication and networking skills in order to maximize the event’s professional value to them and secure a start on their first professional network. In fact, they added to their network OSU alumnus Dr. Armond E. Sinclair, who currently works at Northrop Grumman as an engineering manager.
Senior Dennis Scott said, “This conference was an amazing experience. Before this, I had never attended a professional event in my career path. I did not know what to expect and was a little apprehensive about meeting and conversing with individuals who were further along in their path than me. It was blown away by how warm and welcoming everyone was and immediately felt at ease.”
Najla Dorsey and Christopher Jones, who lead the Ohio State student chapter of OBAP as president and vice president, respectively, also incorporated peers into their professional network by connecting with other student OBAP leaders around the country such as Western Michigan University and Embry Riddle Aeronautical University.
The students’ transformative experience was made possible by the generous support of these OSU offices and individuals:
- The College of Engineering Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering;
- The Center for Aviation Studies;
- Professor James W. Gregory;
- The College of Engineering Office of Diversity, Outreach, and Inclusion;
- The Ohio Space Grant Consortium; and
- The John Glenn College of Public Affairs' Battelle Center for Science, Engineering, and Public Policy.