Embry-Riddle is home to a series of prestigious organizations that salute the advancement of minorities within the Aviation and Aerospace industry. I, myself, have recently joined the Organization of Black Aerospace Professionals. Not only is our advisor the esteemed Dr. Nancy Lawrence, an Associate Professor of Aerospace and Occupational Safety, but our alumni are leaders in the industry. As a member of OBAP, I was invited to attend the 41st Annual Convention hosted in Orlando, Florida at the Disney Coronado Springs Resort.
I was in the presence of professional aviators, captains, air traffic control specialists, and even marketing professionals from the aerospace industry. The weekend consisted of collegiate series, receptions, a job fair, and a gala for the finale. Unlike the ISS Research & Design Conference I attended earlier this year, this convention was catered primarily to the students.
The first night informal and beyond welcoming. For many attendees, it was a lot like a family reunion. Minorities make up a relatively small portion of the demographic; despite these small numbers, OBAP provides an incredibly close-knit community that thrives on encouraging one another’s successes. Within in that night alone, I found myself making jokes with historically influential captains that are paving the way for young Black pilots today.
Of course, I myself am not a pilot or enrolled in an aerospace-specific program, but I was pleased to see that there was still a distinct need and appreciation for communication majors. Although I did make a few connections regarding public relations and marketing, this is an event that greatly benefits aeronautical engineers, air traffic controllers, aerospace and occupational safety, and (of course) aeronautical science majors.
Companies in attendance were FedEx, Southwest, Mesa Airlines, JetBlue, and many more. Embry-Riddle was also one of very few colleges with their own booth. Our OBAP chapter members and executive board shared with attendees information on programs and certifications offered at all available degree levels for Prescott, Daytona, and Worldwide.
As a senior, this is event was truly beneficial for networking, but more so perspective. This convention is cleverly crafted to make you an active individual with the aerospace industry. It was a dose of reality. The people I met that weekend are the people I hope will be working with in the future. That in itself is a huge honor – stand alongside men and women that strive for not only themselves, but the people that look up to them.
If you’re looking for more information, be sure to check out the official Organization of Black Aerospace Professionals website and DEFINITELY reach out to our school’s local chapter at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can find us at the activities fair as well on September 7th!