August 18, 2016 Student Life

Two students from Vaughn College had the privilege of attending EAA AirVenture Oshkosh, held on July 24-31, 2016. The students, Paolo Adragna and Zoyla Martinez, were invited to this spectacular aviation event by Vaughn faculty and College administration, and were both in agreement that the experience was nothing less than exceptional. Adragna and Martinez are in their third year at Vaughn—majoring in Aircraft Operations and Airport/Airline Management, respectively. Although they are enrolled in different programs, both students revealed they had the same key takeaway from the event: job opportunity exposure for their future aviation careers.

What is EAA AirVenture Oshkosh?

EAA AirVenture Oshkosh was first launched in 1953 as part of the Milwaukee Air Pageant and, since then, has become one of the world’s largest air shows of its kind. This event is sponsored by the Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) and attracts aviation enthusiasts in the fields of homemade flying craft, as well as designers of more serious craft and an expansive list of government agencies and companies involved in the aviation and aeronautics industries.

This year, more than 10,000 aircraft (including 2,855 show planes) arrived at Wittman Regional Airport in Oshkosh and surrounding airports in east-central Wisconsin. The event showcased almost 900 exhibitors and hosted over 1,000 forums and workshops that were attended by more than 75,000 people. Industry partners who were in attendance participated in over 70 news conferences and discussed how their new products and technologies will benefit the aviation community.

Adragna’s and Martinez’ Experience (Hint: They Loved It)

Adragna’s passion for airplanes started at an early age, as he always knew he wanted to become a pilot. After high school, he put himself on the fast track to begin earning his commercial pilot certificate at Vaughn. “The program typically takes one-to-two years to complete, but I decided to speed up the time frame so I can complete the program in five months and begin applying for jobs,” he said. Attending the career fair at AirVenture opened up several doors of opportunity for Adragna. “Although it was an amazing aviation experience seeing all the jumbo jets and aircraft, my favorite part of being at the event was networking with all the companies and hearing what type of experience I need to have on my resume to land a job,” he explained.

The exposure to meeting other prospects for job opportunities was priceless.

Just as you need pilots to fly the planes, you need an airport to land them in. That’s where Martinez’s interest in aviation management lies. “Running an airport is like running a small city,” said Martinez. She currently works for Air Mexico as a customer service agent at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York, and she says her job there is helping her gain the experience she needs to move up in the industry. “I met so many fascinating people at AirVenture,” Martinez said. “The exposure in meeting other prospects for job opportunities was priceless.” Martinez said her favorite part of the event was the night air show, where pilots performed exciting stunts as part of an aerobatics show. “I learned so much at the event,” she said. “It was so much more than just aircraft and aviation; it was an amazing opportunity to see and meet people from all walks of life, all within this growing industry.”

One-step Closer to Their Aviation Dream Jobs

Adragna and Martinez both agree that the technological innovation and advancements in aviation are amazing and will continue to be so in the future. As Vaughn students, they realize that every class, and experience like AirVenture OshKosh, will bring them one step closer to their dream job in aviation. “Hard work pays off,” said Adragna. “Vaughn is a great institution and I’m confident that my education here is a stepping stone to a successful future as a pilot. I hope to teach at Vaughn someday and give back to future students what my professors have given to me. To most people, the sky is the limit. To pilots, the sky is home.”