Seeing the big picture: Students experience aviation industry in Washington D.C. with help of alumna, legislators
From maintenance to management, air traffic control to airport planning, and flying to firefighting, the world of aviation is quite diversified. At Kanas State University Polytechnic Campus, students in the Aviation Legislation class learn about the business and policymaking side of the industry; and to provide a better understanding of how those sectors work, they recently received a firsthand experience in the nation's capital.
In January, 20 students and faculty advisor Austin Walden traveled to Washington, D.C. to attend the three-day Aviation Policy Seminar hosted by the University Aviation Association. There were a variety of sessions on the future of the industry and presentations from various agencies, such as the Air Line Pilots Association, the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International, and the National Air Transportation Association. Students toured the Federal Aviation Administration where they saw in action the regulatory structure they study and have to comply with. Wildcats also were paired up with their peers from other universities to network and gain new perspectives.
Additionally, Walden organized meetings with three different legislators who represent Kansas: Senators Pat Roberts and Jerry Moran and Representative Roger Marshall. Students were able to personally engage with the congressmen, asking questions and learning more about how the government works, why it works and for who it works. The group even received gallery passes from Senator Moran's office to watch both the House of Representatives and the Senate.
"It was clear this trip created personal growth opportunities for each of the students," said Walden, aviation faculty at K-State Polytechnic. "Many of them had never been outside of Kansas and were excited, but nervous to go to Washington, D.C. I am so proud of how they conducted themselves and the way they thoughtfully evaluated each experience, listened to different viewpoints, and came to their own conclusions on the future of the aviation and aerospace industry."
Another highlight of the trip was a special dinner with 2010 alumna Kali Hague and her husband. A previous professional pilot student at K-State Polytechnic, Hague now lives in Washington, D.C and is an attorney with Jetlaw, LLC. She also teaches an online Aviation Law class for the campus. She and her husband, an aviation attorney and pilot, led a conversation on trends in the industry, including the impact of the grounding of Boeing Max 8, and talked about a typical day at their aviation law practice.
"It's important to always see the big picture," said Hague. "A trip like this has so much value because it shows students the diversity and complexity of the aviation industry. When I went into the professional pilot program, I assumed I would fly for a living, but K-State Polytechnic prepares you for many different career options. Having the experience and knowledge from this trip will serve students well no matter where their career takes them."
Before the group left Washington, D.C., they toured several monuments and even visited three of the nation's most important institutions: the U.S. Capitol, the Supreme Court and The White House. After they returned, the students' assignment was to submit a reflection paper on their experience.