This past summer, I had the privilege to work on an undergraduate research project with my faculty mentor. I was accepted to the Summer Undergraduate Research Fellows (SURF) program offered by the undergraduate research department. I spent the spring 2020 semester (pre-covid) designing my research and a plan for data collection. I conducted my research on Women in Aviation and factors that impact minority female students enrolled in aviation higher degree.
During the summer and into the spring semester, I was conducting interviews on zoom from a remote site (due to the pandemic). These participants identified themselves as a minority female and I was able to have meaningful conversations with them in order to explore their needs and wants in order to achieve success in a very homogenous industry. The entire process almost took up a year but this past month, I was able to present my research at the Global Virtual Conference on Diversity in Aviation, Aerospace and STEM, hosted by Ohio State University. The paper was later published on UAA (University Aviation Association) for the CARI (Collegiate Aviation Review International) journal. In addition to the publication, I will be presenting at the virtual Student Research Symposium (ERAU) this fall.
It was such a meaningful opportunity to be able to conduct my own research, present it in front of people and be able to publish a research paper. I have learned so much from the experience and all the time I spent working on this project was well worth it at the end.
I always knew that our university had great research programs, but as a pilot, all those opportunities felt distant from me as I assumed they were more for the engineering students. However, from my own research experience, I found out these research programs extended to aeronautics, business, homeland security and many more majors offered at our school. It was a refreshing experience to see the work of student researchers from a diverse pool of studies.
For anyone who is interested in conducting their own research (you can also do it in a group), I would highly recommend contacting our undergraduate research department to find out more about all the opportunities they have to offer. They will help you find anything from a good research topic, a mentor, a scholarship, to conference opportunities. The experience you will gain from conducting a research at a higher degree institution is something you will not obtain from your average classroom setting.