WMU News

Teens from around nation get taste of being on the leading edge

July 1, 1999

KALAMAZOO -- Minority and women high school students from around the country will spend two weeks at Western Michigan University's College of Aviation in July getting a taste of flying and a look at the aviation career possibilities they can pursue.

WMU's July 12-23 aviation camp marks the first of what will become an annual event designed to expand the horizons of students who have the potential to eventually enroll in the University's undergraduate aviation program. This year's camp will be attended by 22 students, ages 15 to 19, who have been recruited for the opportunity by the Organization of Black Airline Pilots. Student participants from Arizona, Georgia, and Washington will join several students from Michigan for the camp.

Students will live in residence halls on WMU's campus in Kalamazoo and travel daily to WMU's College of Aviation facilities in Battle Creek to take classes and enjoy hands-on aviation experiences. Those experiences will range from work on flight simulators and in maintenance labs to flights in University aircraft.

"The entire camp will be quite intense," says Beth M. Seiler, Women and Minority Program coordinator in the College of Aviation. "Instruction will be geared to the college freshman level, so it will be quite rigorous, especially for the younger students."

Topics to be covered will include aerodynamics, flight regulations, the parts of an airplane, flight maneuvers, communication and pilot jargon, computer awareness, and the international aviation culture.

Students will be paired with WMU students who will serve as aviation mentors for the camp's duration. The younger students also will have an opportunity to interact with students in WMU's International Pilot Training Centre, which provides training to Cadets from around the world under contracts with such firms as British Airways, Aer Lingus and Emirates Airlines.

The camp is being funded by a grant from AmeriWest Airlines along with the continued support of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation of Battle Creek to the College of Aviation to increase the presence of women and minorities in aviation careers. The Organization of Black Airline Pilots conducted national recruiting for the camp at WMU's request and representatives from that organization will meet with students throughout their two weeks on campus.

"The students recruited had to have an interest in aviation and at least a 3.2 grade point average," says Seiler. "We also asked the organization to pick kids who are motivated to become WMU students. Of course we'll be promoting our program strongly during the camp, but what we are really trying to do is make more women and minorities students aware that there are great career opportunities in aviation.

In addition to the weekday class work, students will travel to Detroit on the weekend to visit the Tuskegee Air Museum. On July 23, the final day of the camp, students and their parents will attend a morning ceremony and hear an address by Everton Martin of Milwaukee, who is the Midwestern Regional Vice President of the Organization of Black Airline Pilots.

Media contact: Cheryl Roland, 616 387-8400, cheryl.roland@wmich.edu

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