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Kent State Signs Agreement for Aviation Recruiting and Training

Posted Jan. 20, 2014

Kent State students offered sought-after internships with United Airlines

enter photo description
Kent State University recently signed an agreement with
CommutAir, a regional airline that operates as United
Express in the Midwest and Northeast, to provide a
development and bridging program for qualified graduates
of the university’s acclaimed Aeronautics Program. Kent
State aeronautics student Ryan Weber works in and around
the fleet of planes at the Kent State Airport.

Kent State University recently signed an agreement with CommutAir, a regional airline that operates as United Express in the Midwest and Northeast, to provide a development and bridging program for qualified graduates of the university’s acclaimed Aeronautics Program. The partnership will mutually benefit the recruiting goals of Kent State and CommutAir, and will provide significant employment opportunities for graduates.

The agreement outlines a professional development program for Kent State graduates, providing job shadowing, flight training and expedited hiring options.

“The value of CommutAir establishing a bridging agreement with a quality aviation program such as that at Kent State provides us with a more robust pool of qualified applicants,” says CommutAir Executive Vice President Joel Raymond. “We view this relationship as one very important piece of a very complex puzzle in assuring our operation is staffed with the highest qualified aviators.”

U.S. airline companies are facing a very serious pilot shortage, with higher experience requirements for new hires in effect just as the industry braces for a wave of retirements.

Approximately 10 percent of CommutAir’s current pilots are Kent State graduates. The new agreement means expanded training and job opportunities for Kent State students.

“When a company such as CommutAir that has hired our graduates comes to us and says ‘We want more Kent State students,’ that is incredibly exciting,” says Maureen McFarland, academic program director of aeronautics at Kent State. “It validates the work we are doing. We are producing a graduate that is in demand, so much so that a company such as CommutAir will guarantee them employment.”

The success of Kent State’s aviation students is the ultimate validation. Recently, 500 students from around the country applied for 16 internships with United Airlines. Three Kent State students were among the applicants interviewed in Houston, and all three were offered paid internships for the spring semester.

According to Nick DeLotell, director of training for United Express operated by CommutAir, the new agreement with Kent State has broader goals as well.

“This is a joint recruiting program that is going to help both Kent State and CommutAir foster aviation in our region and in our state,” DeLotell says. “It’s also an effort to hire professionals and help them achieve their goals in a really challenging industry. So it’s a really holistic professional development program.”

While enrolled in the bridge program, students spend a great number of hours job shadowing CommutAir employees.

“This provides enormous insight into not just how our airline operates, but how every airline in this industry works,” DeLotell explains. “We all operate under the same rules and regulations and have to do things the same way and to the same standard. So that’s a real leg up for a student coming into professional aviation.”

Once students meet the hourly requirement for job shadowing, they can interview for a job.

“The point is this all happens prior to graduation,” DeLotell adds. “So there’s no job search necessary after graduation. This is all in place for students who think this is right for them. It really provides that peace of mind to allow them to focus on their studies.”

“If you are a high school student and you want to be an airline pilot, you can have a very clear, defined path to get from your high school classroom into the seat of a major airline,” DeLotell says.

DeLotell is excited about the possibilities for Kent State students, now and in the future.

“We definitely consider this a long-term relationship with Kent State,” DeLotell says. “Of course, it starts with the quality education that the student gets at Kent State, and we build off of that. At our end, we supplement that education by opening our doors to the students who are enrolled in this program.”

For more information about CommutAir/United Express, visit www.commutair.com.

For more information about Kent State’s Aeronautics Program, visit www.kent.edu/caest/undergraduate/aeronautics.