Casual Science

I spent the last three years networking. I met everyone I could. Hell, I even looked into fields that had nothing to do with my interest in space. If I could at least develop a connection with a representative, then I would have a source, an ‘in.’ This year, that ‘in’ paid off.

Walking into the Space Tango office was unreal. I'm excited to be taking my first real steps towards accomplishing my goals.

Walking into the Space Tango office was unreal. I’m excited to be taking my first real steps towards accomplishing my goals.

I’m now an intern at Space Tango, Inc. in Lexington, Kentucky. I work reasonable hours for solid pay. The environment is amazing, and my coworkers are helpful. I’m also getting credit hours for this and we all know that’s a great bonus. It’s science, but it’s casual.

As a communication major at an aeronautical university, everyone wonders “how do those even fit together?” Honestly, I asked myself the same thing before I switched my major. Communication is more than writing a few technical reports or manuals. I personally would like to do public relations for an aerospace company. Ha. How often do you hear of that? Well that’s the thing; you don’t hear about it at all. Being the stubborn woman that I am, I made it an option before someone could tell me otherwise.

I knew nothing about pursuing such a career in science, so I found someone that did. The communication department is flooded with individuals that specialize in writing, speech, behavior, etc. Never forget that they were all somewhere before Riddle. My advisor helped shape my classes for my desired career path and another amazing professor shared her experience in the competitive field of public relations. This was just step 1.

Step 2 was maintaining a focus in science. I picked up a major in space studies to expand my understanding of anything aerospace (satellites, orbital paths, rocket history, propulsion, and more) and to keep me up-to-date on current events. From there, it all happened on its own. I attended open lectures, forums, anything that would provide me an opportunity for one-on-one interaction with professionals in the aerospace industry.

This was really my last “planned” step, step 3. Even if they weren’t always successful, I familiarized myself with other fields. I learned from people I didn’t think I would. This is how I met Michelle Lucas, an Embry-Riddle alumna and CEO of Higher Orbits.I made it my mission to have her remember me. I emailed her, and when I didn’t hear from her in two weeks, I emailed her again. She finally responded and the conversation flowed from there. She invited me to be a member on the Higher Orbits advisory board as she developed her nonprofit “Go For Launch” program, but I wasn’t beating myself up that I didn’t get a high end co-op as yet. I was building my resources.

I continued to casually work towards my goals as a COM major. I maintained relationships with people that I met over the last few years (astronauts, professors, research scientists, NASA employees, people those of us at Embry-Riddle dream of meeting). I expanded my extracurricular experience ranging from Greek Life to the Caribbean Students’ Association. I got a couple of on-campus jobs that dabbled in marketing. I gained leadership experience and focused on my studies. This was all while my network was growing on its own in the background. My casual encounters and skills that I continuously developed were being now discussed by aerospace professionals. I was commended for my hard work, for my creativity,and my goals. Just as I was getting a little impatient, an opportunity finally arose.

Michelle Lucas informed my advisor of an internship opportunity with a micro-gravity research company in search of a communication student to handle their marketing and public relations. I underwent an interview process and shared the portfolio of my work that I built from all my extracurricular activities. A couple of weeks later, I was invited to join the Space Tango team for the spring semester.

Twitter is one of the digital mediums I handle on a day-to-day basis. I update followers on experiments and launches.

Twitter is one of the digital mediums I handle on a day-to-day basis. I update followers on experiments and launches.

My networking paid off. I’m spending my spring semester surrounded by engineers, live feeds from the ISS, and constant news and updates on the SpaceX launches. I’m currently working on media coverage for Space Tango’s payload for CRS-10. I not only control their social media, but I develop media alerts and press releases.

My name is Danielle Rosales. I’m a senior communication major with minors in business administration and space studies. I don’t have an outstanding 3.0 GPA, but I’ve held several jobs on campus in marketing, media relations, and graphic design. I’ve developed a reliable network and have been mentored by Embry-Riddle faculty members.

I’m right where I wanted to be doing something people didn’t even think was possible. The best part of it all? Getting here was all so casual.

⋆ Dani

 

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

Taking the Scenic Route to the NTSB

When Pete came to Embry-Riddle as a freshman in fall of 2009, his goal after graduation was to be a pilot, a dream he’d had since he was in first grade. But it wasn’t long until he recognized his love of aviation would be better served in a business role, so he changed his major to business administration.

“My internship at Tweed New Haven Regional Airport opened my eyes to this and made me realize flying wasn’t the only way I could be actively, hands-on involved in aviation every day,” he says in his introductory student blog.

He began writing the blog as a sophomore and, by that time, was well on his way to achieving his college graduation goals. He’d began working in Airport Operations at Daytona Beach International Airport almost 30 hours per week. In addition, he earned his Private Pilot’s Certificate, Instrument Rating, made Honor Roll, published a blog and articles for various online outlets, was certified in Aircraft Rescue & Firefighting, and had organized large events including an air show. Pretty impressive stuff – but that was just the beginning.
pete tbird

Prospective students followed Pete’s adventures at RiddleLifeFlorida where he shared his Embry-Riddle experiences of plane spotting, day trips to Disney, and work stories. One of the highlights was working during the Daytona 500 NASCAR races and supporting the United States Air Force Thunderbirds, the more than 250 corporate aircraft that fly in and out during the event, and even celebrities like Fergie.

Fast forward to 2016 and we find Pete about to begin his third year of law school and at the NTSB working as a Law Clerk. How did he get there? Let’s ask him.
pete

The last Riddle blog you wrote was in 2011. Where did life take you from there?

Well, somewhat comically, not three days after graduation from Riddle I began working in my new job at Orlando International Airport. I was given a rare opportunity for someone only 22 years old due to the amount of experience that I had developed to be an Airfield Operations Specialist at one of the largest airports in the world. I still credit my experiences at Embry-Riddle in addition to my work experience for getting me there. It was truly a great experience to be responsible for something as big as Orlando International on a day-to-day basis.

While I was at Orlando, I decided that it would be a good idea to continue my education, so I began working on a Master’s of Science degree in Criminal Justice at the University of Central Florida on a part-time basis. In doing this, and in the work I was doing at the airport, I uncovered an interest in the law, specifically in aviation law. So, I took the LSAT and applied to law schools, ultimately selecting the Antonin Scalia Law School at George Mason University in Arlington, VA. Following my first year of law school, I was lucky enough to do an internship with the Federal Aviation Administration in their Chief Counsel’s office. Following my second year of law school, and presently, I am working in the General Counsel’s office of the National Transportation Safety Board as a law clerk. Then, I will complete my last year of law school, take the Bar exam, and be an attorney working in the aviation industry in some capacity.

How did you choose a grad school?

I started my graduate studies at UCF largely due to its proximity to work, and also because of their criminal justice program that is well respected in the industry. In choosing Scalia Law, I was primarily focused on attending a Top 50 law school in close proximity to Washington, DC and the federal government. Ultimately, that proximity has allowed me to obtain a great deal of exposure with the government and to work/intern there during the school year, while students at many other schools only have the opportunity to participate in internships with the federal government during the summers.

How did Embry-Riddle help you prepare for and transition to grad school?

Riddle definitely prepared me for grad school in the way that the professors structured their classes and assigned projects. The Riddle requires students to be strategic in their time management and planning, while also teaching students how to think rationally and logically. These skills are imperative for success in law school. You need to be able to process information quickly and accurately, and you need to be able to budget your time almost perfectly, especially in the first year of law school. Additionally, the Aviation Law course that I took at my law school was more of a review than anything else as a result of the coursework from the College of Business. This allowed me to excel above the other students in that class.

What was your grad school experience like?

It is still ongoing, that is for sure! As most people know, the first year of law school is tough. You are assigned hundreds of pages of reading a night, legal writing projects, and you are also randomly subject to being called on in class to discuss the material (the “Socratic method.”) It really left no free time to do much of anything else. The second year was much easier, and I was able to get involved on the Trial Advocacy Team, continue my internship at the FAA, and even take on a part-time job to make a little money. The third year of law school is more outside the classroom work and less school: I will only have class two days a week this semester and will be working the remaining days. All in all though, the skills I have learned are very helpful and useful, and I appreciate the experience very much.

Did you ever imagine you’d find yourself working for the NTSB?

No, I don’t think so! I was always interested in accident investigations and wanted to take those classes at Riddle, but I was never able to do so unfortunately. I did not think that I would ever be working in a legal capacity for the Board, however, that is for certain. I am enjoying it very much thus far!

What are some of the legal issues specific to aviation?

There are many legal issues in aviation today, probably the most well-known of which involve the air service controversies that have been occurring with foreign carriers such as Emirates and Qatar, and US-flag carriers. Foreign carriers must be permitted by the Department of Transportation to serve destinations in the United States, allowing them to compete with US carriers on the same routes. However, some US carriers have claimed that they cannot compete with these foreign carriers because those carriers are subsidized by their respective country’s governments and subject to those countries’ laxer labor laws, resulting in significantly lower overhead and the ability to charge far cheaper fares.

However, aviation law issues stretch further than one might imagine to include tort litigation (personal injury), enforcement, regulatory concerns, and more. Personally, my favorite area is tort litigation as I love being in the courtroom. Ultimately, I would love to be able to litigate cases involving aircraft crashes in court. The utility of my Embry-Riddle background and technical knowledge is immeasurable when it comes to this type of law.

Do you still spend time flying?

Yes, I try to. The Washington, DC airspace is somewhat tricky, but I have found an airport nearby that has nice rentals and is not too hard to get to. When time permits, I love to fly around and check out the landscape of Virginia.

Are there many ERAU grads working with you?

There are, actually, but not directly in the General Counsel’s office. Many of the investigators went to Embry-Riddle, and, in fact, one of the presidentially-appointed Board Members (Robert Sumwalt) has a Master’s Degree from Embry-Riddle.

Advice for students attracted to Embry-Riddle?

Prospective students? If you have even the slightest interest that you want to work in aviation in any capacity, go to Embry-Riddle. Take it from me. The opportunities that I have had have all been related to my degree from Embry-Riddle. The people you meet will connect you with jobs for the rest of your life. It is worth every penny you spend on your degree to go to Riddle. I would not be where I am today if I did not go to Embry-Riddle. In short, DO IT. The education is fantastic and will prepare you for whatever you choose to do in life. Additionally, going to college in Daytona Beach is an experience that I reminisce about every day, and you will absolutely love it yourself.

Current students? Think outside the box. I came into Riddle with tunnel vision that I wanted to be an airline pilot, but look where my career took me due to one internship. Try a few different things and see what you like. Don’t give up, even when it gets hard. It will all be worth it. Lastly, enjoy every minute of it, because it goes by so fast. But, know that the friends you make at Riddle will be your friends for life. Virtually all of my best friends are people who I met during college.

Students interested in similar careers can contact Pete at  jgreco@gmu.edu

And We’re Back!

Hello, hello! After a much needed 4-5 month hiatus, we’re back! And I’m not just talking about me being back on the blogging scene, but rather everyone coming back to Embry-Riddle. So on that note, welcome back returning students and faculty, and hello to the new students and faculty getting their start at Embry-Riddle this semester!

This summer has been a jam-packed one for sure. With things ranging from collegiate visits and parades to work and traveling, Summer 2015 may have been my most productive summer to date.

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Summer 2015 also marked the time where I started taking “artsy” pictures.

With victory and triumph in my veins after conquering the spring semester, I boarded my flight bound from Orlando, Florida (MCO) to Newark, New Jersey (EWR) and rode the train home once I got to New Jersey. It was probably 1AM when I finally got to my house on May 1st. Unfortunately for me, most of my friends were still in school/college. Needless to say, I did not spend May wisely and spent most of my time at home. (Whoops.) I did however, visit my high school to catch up with some teachers and friends. I even spoke to a few freshmen classes about college and how to prepare for the next 4-5 years of their lives.

Suddenly June came barreling in, and I suddenly found myself in a chaotic ballet of commitments and unexpected events. My sister’s orientation for Penn State University was during the first week of June so I had to put off working in New York City until the week after. Despite the logistics, 4-hour drive, and uncomfortable hotel beds, it was a fun time. Most importantly, my sister enjoyed the school which is what really mattered.

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I guess Penn State ran out of rock climbing walls.

With Penn State’s orientation over and my sister finishing high school in 2 weeks, I went back to work in New York City. Not much has changed since I left last summer, but it was still nice to go back to work in place that was familiar to me. The atmosphere and pacing is so different from life here in Daytona Beach, and that’s the lifestyle I was accustomed to.

Sometime in the middle of July, the U.S. Women’s Soccer Team defeated Japan during the Women’s FIFA Cup and to celebrate, there was a ticker tape parade in New York City. Conveniently, my office was on Broadway and I managed to get some really nice pictures. It was my first ever ticker tape parade and it was really special considering the last one was in 2012 after the Giants won the Superbowl.

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ERMERGERD. ERMERGERD.

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I saw people just dump entire packets of paper outside their windows. It was crazy.

Annoyingly, August rolled around signalling the end of my summer vacation a few weeks later. By that time, I finished my internship and spent my time at home preparing for the fall semester. I managed to go out and photograph a few sunrises, the Perseid Meteor Shower, and sunsets. It was nice and a fitting salute to my home state before leaving for Riddle.

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I saw the Milky Way in person for the first time ever!

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The last sunrise I saw in New Jersey. *sheds tear*

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Oooo.

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On my flight back to Orlando, I ran into William Stirna who was a graduate of Embry-Riddle’s class of 1994!

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With things at Embry-Riddle in full swing now, nothing’s really changed since I left last spring. My classes are very interesting with SIM 200 being the most “technical” class I’ve taken to date. My professors are wonderful and they make class enjoyable, and I’m honestly glad things worked out the way they did. So, on that bombshell, thank you for reading, and I’ll talk to you all soon!

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This isn’t Daytona Beach, but this was taken in Florida…that counts right?

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“Oh so artsy.”