Filing a New Flight Plan

Kevin Garland arrived at Embry-Riddle’s Daytona Beach Campus as a freshman in fall of 2008, the height of the Great Recession. It’s no surprise he ended up at Embry-Riddle, he’d been attracted to aviation since he was six years old when his grandfather introduced him to Radio Control Aircraft (R/C). Naturally, he chose to major in flight. He also selected minors in air traffic control and unmanned aircraft systems. At that time, unmanned aircraft studies were just being introduced to college curriculum. In fact, Embry-Riddle was the first to offer the major that began accepting students into the program in unmanned aircraft systems science in the fall of 2011, just a year before Kevin’s scheduled graduation. But he saw the opportunity in the rapidly expanding field and modified his plan.

When he started college, he had already achieved much success in the world of R/C having soloed when he was just seven years old. By the time he was a senior, he was ranked 4th in Advanced Class his region and had secured a variety of sponsors to support his competitions nationally. He continued his R/C flying at Embry-Riddles part of the R/C Club with a team made up of students majoring in aerospace engineering, communication and unmanned aircraft. Kevin changed his major to aeronautics, a move that gave him added flexibility for gaining minors.

But he says these competitions are about more than winning, they are also about inspiring young people. As a college student, he enjoyed visiting high schools, like Griffin High in his home state of Georgia, and the kids who attend Youth Masters R/C competition where Kevin helps out each year.

Kevin's niece - keeping the family inspiration going

Kevin’s niece – keeping the family inspiration going

Kevin’s final student blog after graduation relates the plans he has for the future: move back home, finish his certified flight instructor rating to become a flight instructor and build flight time, land a job in air traffic control and keep competing in R/C. But that’s not how the future panned out for Kevin, and he’s happy about that for a number of reasons. Let’s ask him about where life took him and where he is today.

How did you land your job at Latitude Engineering?
After completing my degree at the end of the Summer of 2012 I visited the Embry-Riddle Daytona campus in November to see a few friends. While visiting I stopped and spoke to a few of my past professors. Mr. Ted Beneigh who was one of my UAS professors mentioned about a job in Yuma, AZ working for Latitude Engineering. He gave me their contact information (still have that piece of paper today!) That night I emailed Latitude my resume and the next week I heard from them. They mention I basically met all the criteria and they wanted me to fly out to Yuma the next day to do an in-person interview. The interview went great and when I landed back in Atlanta I got a voicemail saying I had been selected for the job and was going to start the first of the year in 2013. Without the help of Professor Beneigh I may have never found this great opportunity.
What is your position and job duties?
 From 2013 to late 2015 I worked in Yuma, AZ as a contract R&D Test Pilot for the NAVAIR Program flying the Tiger Shark UAV, which is a 500lb 20-foot wing span UAV. For this particular job I tested new software code, new payloads to be used overseas, and testing new parts for the aircraft itself. I have earned more than 900 hours flying this platform over those three years in Yuma, AZ. My contract with that program ended and late 2015 I moved the Commercial Side of UAVs flying for the BNSF FAA Pathfinder Program working with Latitude.  I am currently a Company representative supporting Latitude’s Hybrid Quadcopter Aircraft. This is a VTOL (virtual take-off and landing) aircraft which will be used to support BNSF’s train operations. My roles for this position include doing test flights on the aircraft, teaching new students how to fly the aircraft for BNSF’s operations, and to fix any issues with the aircraft in the field if there is a problem. The FAA Pathfinder project is dealing with BVLOS operations.  Fun fact! Embry-Riddle has purchased Latitude Engineering’s HQ-40 Aircraft.

 

VTOL - work in progress

VTOL – work in progress

Do other Embry-Riddle alumni work at Latitude?
As of right now no one else from Embry-Riddle works with Latitude Engineering. Alumni are, however working with the same BNSF Pathfinder project working for AUV Flight Services. I am hoping to attract more alumni to Latitude Engineering as it is an awesome company to work for. Where else can you skate board around the office and rip stick around the workbenches?

Are you still competing?
Even with my busy schedule I still compete in aerobatic flying with model aircraft. I still try to make a few competitions each year along with performing airshows at local and regional events.
My main sponsor currently is Futaba / Hobbico. A few other sponsors are Flight Power Batteries, Ohio Model Products, Smart-Fly R/C, B&E Graphix, Spot-On R/C and my newest sponsor is Ready Made R/C.

Do you spend much time flying the old-fashioned way – in the sky?
Flying? I honestly don’t know when I am not flying! I guess when I sleep. I am constantly flying manned and unmanned aircraft along with model aircraft. As for manned flying, I try to get up a few times every month to stay current. I am very fortunate that part of my job is flying manned aircraft for unmanned flight testing. I also have been very fortunate to be able to fly my girlfriend’s family plane which is a Cessna 182. Brenna (my girlfriend) and I have been dating two years now and she enjoys flying as much as I do. I have put on an extra 300 hours since we started dating in their Cessna-182. I say I am very LUCKY! Just last year I completed my Certified Flight Instructor rating and later this year I plan on completing my CFII.


How about your personal life?
During the spring time in 2013 I was out flying R/C aircraft at the local model aircraft field in Yuma, AZ. An older gentleman walked up to me and notice the hat I was wearing was an ERAU hat. He also noticed my airplane had an Embry-Riddle decal on it. He mentioned his granddaughter Brenna was interested in going to college either at ERAU in Prescott or UND. I gave my personal opinion and he wanted my phone and email address for her to contact me. Brenna later emailed me and asked me a few questions about the University. I personally did not know much about the Prescott campus as I went to the Daytona campus, but I answered the questions to the best of my ability. She later mentioned she chose ERAU in Prescott and she was starting in the Fall of 2013. We talked over the phone and via emails for nearly a year till we actually met in person in Spring time of 2014. We really got along as we shared a lot of things together. We have been on many adventures in her parents Cessna 182. We have flown across the country from Yuma, AZ to Atlanta, Georgia several times along with flying to her hometown from Prescott, AZ to Alden, IA. We have also flown into Oshkosh together and Sun N Fun. Other great trips were flying to Telluride, CO, Catalina Island, and to see the Arches in Utah. Even though we graduated from two different campuses we both worked great as a flight crew. She graduated from the Prescott campus back in December of 2015 and she now has a job as a First Officer for Boutique Airlines flying a PC-12.
Words of advice?
I would like to thank my family for supporting me all of these years. My parents always worried about the money we spent on flying r/c aircraft during my years living at home. The hobby is not cheap, but I was very fortunate enough to have my parents help out when I was younger. Today my parents said their investment in my hobby paid off, because I have landed a dream job of mine of flying Unmanned Aircraft. The person I would like to thank the most is my Grandfather. He is the one that introduced me to this hobby and taught me how to fly mode aircraft. Without his help there is no telling what I would be doing as for a career today. Model Aircraft, I feel, is a great starting point for anyone to get into the field of aviation. Let’s put it this way. My first flight in a manned aircraft the Instructor never had to take the controls from take-off to landing. After landing my instructor looked at me and said “are you ready to solo” Of course he was joking, but he could tell the skills I learned from flying r/c aircraft transferred to my manned flying skills.

Kevin and Granddad

Kevin and Granddad

5th Week Update

Happy Monday everyone! Or should I say one of the busiest Mondays ever! I hope your weekend was great! Congratulations to the Denver Broncos on their Super Bowl 50 win! It was really an amazing game. Defensive and offensive. I don’t really follow football, but I did go for the Carolina Panthers solely because I liked the color blue on their uniforms. Anyway, it’s the 5th week of school! One of the craziest weeks scheduled so far! As for today, I had class from 8:00a – 12:00p. I lucked out and did not have a quiz in Physics today. Everyone was exhausted and I am assuming the teacher was too. From 12:00p – 5:00p it was studying after studying for my calculus exam tomorrow. 5:00p – 7:00p was an officers meeting for Society 4 S.P.A.C.E. We got a lot accomplished! We decided on our trip to NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, the website, and also decided to host a fundraiser next Tuesday! Progress!

Unfortunately this is not the end of my day. 7:30p – 8:00p dinner, 8:00p – 9:00p studying for calculus, again, 9:00p – odd hours of the night studying calculus with a friend – whenever I sleep is humanities homework. So a very packed and crazy Monday/Tuesday. However, I really am excited for this week because I have my first NASA Solar System Ambassador (SSA) telecom with NASA! Super exciting! I have to complete my Orientation and Training tomorrow along with my other homework. At this rate, this week may never end!

BUT it is a holiday week! A double header…almost! Valentine’s Day is on Sunday! A time for love and love and more love. I am a very crafty person and have a lot of fun creative gifts for my boyfriend. I also plan on making cupcakes for my friends. For all of you Valentine’s Day celebraters, have fun! Love and give someone a hug! Or a cupcake! President’s Day is on Monday and we do not have school. Yay break!

Almost a break for me, I have a research meeting, lunch meeting, fundraising meeting, and officer meeting on Monday so looks like more going and going. I will tell you this, one thing about Riddle that I love is that it doesn’t matter if it is the classes, or the clubs, you will ALWAYS be busy. For a person like me, who loves being busy, I absolutely love it. If I am not busy, I will find something to do whether that is to finally start my Russian Rosetta Stone, read, or watch Netflix. When I am busy, I feel like I am creating the best out of life. I am in college, this is the time to work your butt off for the career you want, and I feel like I am fulfilling that to the max! It makes me happy.

Speaking about college and career, registration for summer classes is on Wednesday! For the crazy people like me, I will be attending Summer A and B. However, for those of you on the fence about summer classes, here is some advice from someone who took summer classes last semester, me. I personally LOVE summer classes. It is tough and condensed, but you get the chance to get ahead and leave the “not so fun classes” for the summer, therefore you knock them out a lot quicker. It gives you a quicker graduation date, which means starting your career quicker. Think about it.

Anyway, it’s off to dinner and more studying/homework for me. Have a great week everyone and study hard!

Boeing here I come!

Hey everybody! Remember me? Well it’s been quite a long time since I last wrote a blog. When I first started doing this, I was just starting out at Embry-Riddle. Now I’m a senior!! Can’t believe how fast the time goes by when you’re working towards your passion in life.

Boeing here I come!

Not much has changed in my life. I’m still an Aerospace Engineering major with a concentration in astronautics. Except this summer, I’m here in Washington State at an internship with The Boeing Company!

Now, before I start saying anything about my job, I would just like to say one thing: you don’t know the power a good university like Embry-Riddle carries until you get out in the industry. You see, I didn’t get my internship through Embry-Riddle (although our Career Services Office does an AMAZING job at getting students jobs/internships!!). Last year, in October, I went to a Hispanics in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) conference in Orlando called HENAAC. For those of you who have previously read my blog…yes it was at Disney. Anywho, this is a huge conference where big named companies go and celebrate diversity in the field. And by big names, I mean people like Boeing, Northrop Grumman, Lockheed Martin and Chevron. Did I mention this isn’t an aviation conference? Yeah, great shot for us aviation geeks at getting a job 😉

On the first day of the conference, the main sponsors held hospitality suites with food (lots of it!) and recruiters and managers (hiring people!). I was one of the first ones lined up to go talk to a recruiter I had met earlier. I handed him my my resume, he looked it over, and referred me to a manager that had literally just walked in. Mind you I was standing next to students from other really good Universities like MIT, GTech, Purdue. However, when that manager saw the ERAU name on my resume, he just looked at me and said “OH! Embry-Riddle! Very good school!” I was surprised, honestly! Our University has a huge name and a very good reputation in the industry. I found out Boeing hires hundreds of ERAU students every year as interns (don’t quote me exactly on that number). To put that into perspective, here in Washington/Puget Sound area, there are around 1,040 interns total this summer. And my lead engineer is a Riddle grad too! We do stake our claim here!
Anyways, that same night of the hospitality suite, the manager called me back (mind you it was like 10 pm…). He asked me to come back to the suite. I was so nervous! What was he going to tell me? Good job, but you’re just not what we’re looking for? Nope! He wanted me to set up an interview!

So a few days later, on a Saturday, I waltzed into the career fair with an interview already set up. I had such mixed feelings about it. It was a combination of anxiety, excitement, nervousness…well everything. And when I get anxious, I tend to talk a lot. Needless to say this carried on in the interview…I felt like I was talking way too much and that I was rambling on! I was so scared at the end of the interview that I had just bored them to death. I used every tip that Career Services had provided for me, but I just wasn’t sure how well I did!
Then, the wait began. On October 26th (yes I remember the date!), I opened my email. “Boeing Global Staffing”. Huh? I opened it. My phone began to ring. Should I wait and see the email? Who could be calling me? I answered the phone. “Hello, is this Adriana?” “Uh…yes…who is this?” “Hi, this is Cynthia calling from Boeing. Have you checked your email today? We would like you extend to you an offer for an internship for the Summer 2013. You have to reply within 48 hours on your decision. The instructions are in your email.” “UH! YES! I’ll do that right away! Thank you!”
Needless to say, I accepted right after I hung up. That was 7 months ago, exactly. Today, I’m sitting here on May 26 in my apartment. I started about a week ago (May 17th). But I think that’s a story for next time…

The Boeing Company, Washington state

 

September 23, 2008

I realize my first blog was kind of a throw in your face, so I figured I would back track a bit and let you know who that person was telling you what to do. I am Heather Owen, a nearly-graduated senior in the Communications Department with a specialty in International Relations. Following my December graduation, I plan on applying to the State Department to begin work towards becoming a U.S. diplomat.

Wait…did I say Communications? Do they even have that at Riddle? News flash: Riddle isn’t just airplanes. I have been in the program for four and a half years.

I am always asked “why Embry-Riddle for the Communications Department?” Well, I have always loved to write. I love giving speeches. Oh, and I kind of enjoy airplanes. However, though I knew I liked these topics, I didn’t quite know what I “wanted to be when I grew up.” I quickly found the Communications Department had plenty to offer. Along with the typical public relations/marketing/journalism curriculum of any other collegiate communications department, Riddle offers an aviation specialty, a niche with many openings, yet few applicants.

Even though I graduate in seventy-six days (not like I am counting), I am not nervous. Graduates from the program have gone into broadcast journalism, aviation-related journalism, public relations, and even law school. None of which is my career path, but the diversity of our program is what makes me a strong post-graduate applicant.

A diploma from the “Harvard of the Sky” alone will open doors, but it has been the experiences I have had that will get my name on the corner office door. Internships and co-ops are the best and easiest way to gain first-hand knowledge. In addition to Career Services, I found my internships thanks to help within my department. The student-to-faculty ratio in the Communications Department is very small, so I quickly got to know all of my professors. As it turned out, I have had that handful of professors for all four years. It was these same instructors who were instrumental in finding me internships and helping me find my career path.

Because I was still on the fence about careers up until my senior year, I took two internships to better acquaint myself with the communications career field. For my first internship, I spent my 2006 summer working for WESH 2 News, located in Daytona Beach. I was on the call with the reporters, riding shotgun in the news van on the way to fires, robberies and homicides. I sat in on court cases, interviewed city officials and visited such fine institutions such as the Volusia County Jail to interview fine, law-abiding residents. I admit the fast-paced dramatics, and getting to “know all the dirt” truly interested me. However, I wasn’t ready to acquire the stigma of a TV news reporter. My second internship this past spring had me working in the Embry-Riddle Athletics Department with the Sports Information Department. I had been in the Athletics Department for four years as a cheerleader, so I was very appreciative to work with those who also supported the Eagles. As a sports marketing intern, I updated statistics, wrote biographies on the players and taped important games. I enjoyed the press passes to games, setting up early morning track meets, and cheering on the Eagles, but I had one big issue. Although I have been a cheerleader for eleven years, I just don’t like sports. I don’t understand them, like to watch them or even care to talk about them. Despite striking out on potential future careers, I learned a lot from the two internships. I found the positives and negatives about the communications field so when I do land a job, I will know what to look for.

So now my senior year. I was set to graduate with a prominent degree, had two internships, had participated in a few activities here and there and gained a few future job insights. However, I wasn’t content with the content of my resume. So, in an utterly rash move which I thoroughly rejoiced about later, I decided to do study abroad and push off graduation. I spent five weeks of my summer in China, speaking Chinese, learning about Chinese culture and just enjoying a culture shock. I continued my education with another three weeks in Prescott studying Chinese.

From the moment I got back to Daytona, I had a path. I want to travel the world. I want to speak foreign languages. I want to play a part in international relations. I want to know the scoop. Oh, and I want a press pass to a non-sport activity (just one of my job insights). Diplomacy is my answer and the State Department will receive my newly minted resume in December. Along with the study abroad on my resume, I also added that I am a sister in the Theta Omicron chapter of Alpha Xi Delta, sweetheart to the Eta Iota chapter of Sigma Chi, cheered for three and a half years at Riddle and am now a devoted student. I am conversant in German and I like to think my English is decent too. Better than a list of do’s and don’ts from a lowly Communications major, huh?