I am composing this article at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana, located in the Midwestern United States. Flight Safety Foundation has formed its first university student membership chapter there. This is part of the value proposition that I wrote about in last month’s column. Students, whether they are in college or high school, are now eligible to be a member of the Foundation for a very nominal fee, US$30.
For many years we have all attended meetings, seminars and conferences, seeing familiar faces of colleagues. However, I noticed that we were not seeing many new and younger faces. To accommodate the additional human resources we will need for the future of aviation safety, we must cultivate interest at an earlier stage in a person’s aviation career. What better place to start than at the university level, in schools that have aviation programs?
Purdue University, as the takeoff site for our first student chapter, has many firsts in academic aviation: the first to have its own airport; to have many famous aviators, such as Amelia Earhart, lecture there; and to have full motion airliner simulators as part of the educational curriculum. So it naturally made sense for Purdue to be the first of what we hope will be many universities worldwide to have student chapters.
The chapters have a full set of protocols that outline the relationship among the Foundation, the university and students. There are provisions for chapter presidents, vice presidents and secretary-treasurers. Those officers will coordinate projects between their chapter and the Foundation. The projects will include work in technical research areas such as safety management systems, go-around guidelines and data analysis. That will be accomplished by visits to the Foundation offices in Alexandria, email and video conferencing. The projects will also allow the students to get involved with some of our members that have great technical and analytical departments.
For those of you who attend our conferences, we are contemplating giving the students a small portion of our agenda schedule to actually make a presentation on various items they have worked, or are currently working, on. That will provide the attendees a perspective from perhaps a different angle-of-attack and let the students experience what it is like to give a presentation in a professional setting, which many don’t get the chance to do.
Our dream is that this membership category will grow very quickly to include many other universities worldwide, and also independent students who may not have access to a chapter. The value proposition is great. The student receives the AeroSafety World magazine, access to our website’s new section for members only, and the hundreds of archived articles from the Foundation for their research papers, plus reduced admission to any of the Foundation seminars.
Student members and university Flight Safety Foundation chapters — what better way to cultivate the next generation aviation and safety professional!