In the sixth episode of Futureproof Focus, Dr. Sharon B. DeVivo, president of Vaughn College and host of the podcast, sat down with Vaughn College alum Eric Santos Silva ‘21 for an inspiring conversation about how his passion for aviation maintenance grew in the military and how he is climbing his way to the top of his career as an aircraft maintenance technician at Delta Air Lines.

Paving the way to his future

Growing up in Brazil, Silva said he always had a strong interest in aviation as well as learning how things worked. His family moved to New York where he attended high school. Like most students, however, he wasn’t sure where his future would take him. “As a first-generation American, I knew I wanted to go to college, but I wasn’t sure what field of study I wanted to pursue,” Silva said. “Then, during senior year, I met with a United States Air Force recruiter who was visiting the school. I enlisted after graduation—and the rest, you can say, is history.”

Gaining experience in the military

Silva was stationed in England, where he served six years in the Air Force. “I worked on the planes’ weapons systems,” he stated. “Being surrounded by airplanes and gaining the hands-on experience truly ignited my passion for aviation.” He explained how serving in the military instilled core qualities and skillsets that not only helped him get to where he is today, but which he applies to life in general:

  • Being organized
  • Coming prepared to every situation or event
  • Being punctual
  • Taking care in appearance
  • Setting a good tone

Finding Vaughn

“After serving my country for six years, I knew it was time to explore my opportunities in the civilian world,” Silva declared. “I had no doubt my future would be in aviation.” In 2019, he enrolled in Vaughn’s associate in occupational studies program, where he received his airframe and powerplant (A&P) certification. “I knew it would be an adjustment transitioning from military to civilian life, but Vaughn made me feel right at home.” Silva said he joined the Veteran’s Club, where he was welcomed by fellow veterans who—like him—made the decision to pursue a career in aviation. He mentioned how one of his favorite activities at Vaughn was joining the aircraft maintenance competition team (AMC) where he—along with his teammates—competed against other airline employees in the field.

Shortly after graduating with his associate in occupational studies degree, Silva was hired by Endeavor Air, where he worked as an aircraft mechanic. (Endeavor Air is a subsidiary of Delta Air Lines that operates 151 regional jets on 700 daily flights to the United States, Canada and the Caribbean). While at this job, he decided to take his education one step further and enrolled in Vaughn’s Bachelor of Science in Aviation Maintenance Management program while continuing to work at the company which had slowed down considerably due to the COVID-19 pandemic. “I wanted to further my education for my future,” Silva enthusiastically stated. “The aviation management degree will position me to be one step ahead of other aircraft mechanics. I know it will pay off when the time is right.” He explained that working and attending college was challenging at the beginning, but having the support of a great team and attending classes remotely during the pandemic made it easier.

Landing the job at Delta Air Lines

Once airlines resumed service after the height of the pandemic, Silva left Endeavor Air and accepted an aircraft mechanic position at Delta Air Lines, where he works the nightshift at LaGuardia Airport. “My experience and track record as a mechanic at Endeavor made for a smooth transition to Delta,” he said. He was able to use the connections he made at Vaughn and in the field to land the position. Silva noted how Delta does not have separate avionics (electronics) teams, the mechanics do everything, which has helped him round out his skillset and become more marketable in the future.

Increasing demand for aircraft mechanics

Silva emphasized that all airlines—from regional to commercial—are hiring aircraft mechanics. “The industry needs workers—especially mechanics,” he said. “It’s an exciting industry—especially with the way technology is playing a role in our jobs.” He explained that technology is changing the platform for the future of aviation on many levels. For example, in a job that at one time simply required a wrench, aircraft mechanics are now using their laptops to troubleshoot the issue. “Delta provides training in Atlanta on the latest updates in technology,” Silva explained. “It’s an exciting time to work in the industry.”

When asked about working toward a management position, Silva explained that even though it’s quite a journey toward landing a managerial role, he’s proud that he has his bachelor’s degree in his back pocket for when the time comes. These are the steps it takes:

  1. Lead mechanic
  2. Shift manager
  3. Base manager
  4. Regional manager

Silva’s advice to students

“Explore all avenues. There are resources—and colleges like Vaughn—to help you get to where you want to be.” Silva said students should keep these benefits in mind if they are considering a career as an aircraft mechanic:

  • Incredible job security
  • Lots of room for growth
  • A long ladder of opportunity to climb to the top of the industry

He closed with this sentiment: “Even though it might seem like a long road—to see the light at the end of the tunnel—it comes up fast. Don’t give up on your dream.”

Listen to the podcast in its entirety here.

Thinking about becoming an aircraft mechanic? Attend our Open House on Saturday, March 18, where you will learn about our futureproof degree programs in aviation, engineering and technology and management. Register now.


The excitement is building as Vaughn College gears up to host a series of VEX Robotics Tournaments for middle, high school and college students in the hangar on the College’s campus.

This three-day event is sure to be a true nail biter as talented enthusiasts show off their robots in thrilling competitions of engineering skills and ingenuity. The schedule will be as follows:

  • February 10: VCAT VEX U Tournament—Vaughn College Robotics Team (VCAT) will compete against national and international universities.
  • February 11: VCAT VRC Tournament Qualifier—High school students will compete to qualify for the state championships.
  • February 12: VEX IQ Competition—Middle school students will compete in an open-ended robotics challenge. This exciting opportunity not only enhances hands-on STEM skills but fosters a student’s development of teamwork, critical thinking, project management and communication skills.

Vaughn has degree programs to meet robotics demand

Competitions such as VEX Robotics World Championship offer students an amazing opportunity to put their robotics and automation skills to the test, while also building vital leadership, collaboration and problem solving skills that students take with them into their future careers.

Vaughn College has long been an institution that meets industry demands by offering futureproof degree programs in fields that impact our daily lives. Robotics engineering and automation are becoming part of today’s most sought-after professions. Through exciting clubs like VCAT and VEX U Robotic World Championship competitions, Vaughn students from diverse majors like mechanical engineering, mechatronic engineering and management are able to put their diverse talents into motion. Why is this important?

According to surveys conducted by ABB, a Swiss-based automation technology company, robotics and automation training are falling behind the increased global demand as it relates to supply chain and education. In fact, although the survey revealed that only one-in-four institutions are teaching these competencies throughout the globe, 80 percent of education professionals said skills in these fields will be crucial for employment in the future. Further results showed that due to supply chain issues, an average of 70 percent of US and European businesses plan to invest in robotics and automation over the next three years. So, what does this mean for your future? If you have ever had an interest in robotics, it might be time to start considering it as a solid career.

Your pathway to success

Vaughn’s mechatronic engineering curriculum was developed to combine mechanical, electrical and computer engineering to prepare students for this fast-paced and ever-changing industry. This leading-edge program gives students the education and tools that are needed to have successful engineering careers in aerospace, automation, automotive, computer, communications and other high-tech industries. And were you aware that this leading-edge degree in engineering is one of only four in the country to receive accreditation by the Engineering Accreditation Commission (EAC) of ABET?

Meet the future you: Success stories

Check out some of our student success stories to learn how Vaughn’s mechatronic engineering program has allowed our students to become successful in a variety of industries.

Jefferson Maldonado ‘16: Read how this Vaughn graduate went back to college to earn a degree in mechatronic engineering after his four-year military career in the U.S. Navy.
Mechatronic Engineering Graduate Lands Dream Job in Robotics

Atif Saeed ‘20: Learn how this Vaughn graduate’s love for aviation and passion for engineering landed him his dream job at Lockheed Martin.
Vaughn Senior Fast Tracks His Future in Mechatronic Engineering”

Tatiana Jaimes ‘22: Find out how this Vaughn graduate—with the support from the College—used mechatronic engineering to design a literacy tool for visually impaired children, where she ultimately landed a job at NASA after graduation.
“Tatiana Jaimes ’22 Uses Mechatronic Engineering to Design BrailleBud, a Literacy Tool for Visually Impaired Children”

Misael Marquez ‘22: Read this exciting article featuring Misael Marquez, president of VCAT, who discusses winning the Excellence Award at the 2022 VEX Worlds Championship—the highest honor presented at VEX Competitions. Learn how he credits joining the robotics team and pursuing a degree in mechatronic engineering as being key to his success.

Vaughn College Robotics Team: For a collective story of triumph, read about a first placement win: “Vaughn Robotics Team Named Number One in the World

Are you interested in the exciting field of robotics engineering? Now is the time to earn your degree to meet the demand in this surging field. Apply today.

And don’t forget to keep up with VCAT team – follow their live stream competitions on Twitch!

Diversity has claimed the top spot of what matter most to students when searching for a college, according to the Class of 2023 Fall Senior Survey reported by Niche. Responses from more than 20,000 graduating seniors revealed that 42 percent felt a diverse student body was “appealing” to them, with an additional 37 percent saying it was a “must-have” in their college experience.

As an institution steeped in diversity, Vaughn College explores some of the key takeaways of the survey and how they relate to the many ways in which Vaughn meets the needs and concerns of its diverse campus community.

Addressing “unnecessary barriers”

One of the key takeaways from the survey is how students from all walks of life are looking for simplicity and relevance when applying to college. Among the more than 20,000 responses, the overall theme was “meeting students where they are” by addressing the “unnecessary barriers” in the college application and admissions process.

Here are some of the areas students are struggling with:
  • Completing college applications
  • Navigating the college admissions process
  • Navigating college websites
How Vaughn overcomes these barriers:

At Vaughn, we cultivate a sense of belonging and have a genuine interest in the success of our students—without any barriers. If you have been considering applying to Vaughn, here are some of the ways we would help you to become a part of the Vaughn community:

  • Admissions counselors are available to help you with your application and answer any questions you may have about the admissions process. Schedule an appointment—via Zoom—with an admissions adviser.
  • Our state-of-the-art website is exciting and easy to navigate—with straightforward information on everything you need to know about our outstanding degree programs and how to become a Vaughn student.
  • Vaughn holds financial aid information sessions during key application periods to help students fill out the FAFSA®, apply for scholarships and navigate the financial aid universe.

College search

Campus visits:

Although most students begin their initial search for colleges online, the trend of attending campus tours is returning. According to the survey, 49 percent of students reported visiting a college and meeting with admissions. For under-resourced and first-generation students, this figure is lower—at below 40 percent.

How Vaughn focuses on the future:
  • Open House: Attending an open house is a great way to learn everything you need to know about us and our degree programs—all under one roof. From the admissions process and financial aid to our futureproof degree programs and student life, you’ll leave with all your questions answered—and then some. Check out our blog, “Top Questions to Ask During a College Open House.” There’s even a handy list of questions you can bring on your visits.
  • Student Voices Videos: Students want to hear from other students about why they love their college. We do just that through our Student Voices videos. Hear and see for yourself the reasons why Vaughn students are living their dreams in today’s futureproof fields.
  • Podcast: Tune into our podcast, FutureProof Focus, to hear from Vaughn alumni, among others, about how they landed successful careers and where they are now.
What students want to know about most:

As part of the survey, students ranked their top picks of what they want to learn most about when searching for colleges. Here are their top three choices—out of eight given topics:

  • Financial aid (56 percent)
  • Academics (55 percent)
  • Careers related to their major (53 percent)
How Vaughn meets your needs:
Underrepresented communities:

The survey revealed how under-resourced, first-generation and traditionally underrepresented students continue to fall behind in the college search process when compared to respondents in other categories where search is slightly ahead of last year. With 38 percent of students reporting that they have started the application process, the study revealed that these underrepresented groups were more likely to report feeling negative emotions about starting college. In fact, 97 percent reported they had fears about the college search process, with affordability being one of the top concerns. These findings confirm the need for more support in the college search process, with a focus on alleviating concerns of affordability.

Vaughn fast facts:
  • Ranked number one in upward mobility, nationwide***
  • Ranked as a top college for social mobility by U.S. News & World Report
  • Ranked in the top four percent of colleges with the highest return on investment (ROI) for students from under-resourced communities.†
Other important factors:
  • Availability of scholarships (98 percent)
  • Safe campus (96 percent)
  • Quality and variety of food options (93 percent)
How Vaughn addresses these factors:
  • Scholarships: Vaughn recognizes academic excellence by awarding scholarships to high-achieving students who are pursuing bachelor’s degrees. We offer several scholarship opportunities for those students meeting certain criteria.
  • Campus safety: Vaughn has long had a policy of making safety information and protocols readily available. Here is the latest information to date.
  • Kate’s Corner Café: Our new café boasts healthy and delicious menu options conveniently located on campus, with vegetarian, kosher and halal options available.
  • Financial Well-Being: We offer support, tips and resources for students about how to stay financially healthy during college.

How Vaughn meets you where you are

At Vaughn, we recognize, respect and celebrate all facets of diversity. We are committed to welcoming and embracing our diverse Vaughn College community with respect and dignity. That’s why—by respecting diversity in all its dimensions—we foster a community that invites and is inclusive of everyone.

Are you looking for a college that meets you where you are with degree programs that are career focused and futureproof? Contact us to schedule a visit or take a virtual tour today or register for Open House on March 18 at 10 a.m.


*Results of the survey were analyzed and compiled as a joint project between Niche and Tudor Collegiate Strategies.

**Outcomes include data within one year of graduation for graduates who reported via survey. There was a total of 314 graduates in 2021. 154 reported an outcome for an 49% response rate. The 2021 graduate class includes September 2020, December 2020 and May 2021.

***The Upshot, January 18, 2017, “Some Colleges Have More Students From the Top 1 Percent Than the Bottom 60.”

†Data from a study completed by Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce, “The Colleges Where Low-Income Students Get the Highest ROI”