The benefits of soaring with AAAE at UNT

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“Soaring high” has been a principal saying for UNT and its community, but students in the Aviation Logistics program are taking the phrase to whole new heights.

The UNT chapter of American Association of Airport Executives (AAAE) is a student organization that connects aviation logistics majors with professionals in the field.

“Connections are very important in business, and we want to connect students with not only industry professionals but others in the major as well,” said President of UNT AAAE Olivia Wattman.

Underclassmen are not always able to meet people from their intended major while still working through core courses, but Wattman and Vice President Zachary Engels think it is vital to meet like-minded individuals.

“I joined AAAE as a freshman and it was nice joining and meeting upperclassmen and getting advice. It’s really good for aviation logistics majors to meet people like them,” said Wattman.

The organization has guest speakers once a month from different areas in the industry, providing students with a vast knowledge of the different opportunities in aviation logistics. They also schedule tours of facilities as often as they can.

AAAE recently toured American Airlines at DFW Airport and got to see the inner workings of the facility while asking questions and getting advice from industry professionals currently working in the field.

They previously toured Southwest’s Maintenance Hangar, Southwest’s Network Operations Center and Denton Airport.

Guest speakers have included Charles Curtis on the Conestoga 1 rocket launch, Michael Collier, flight dispatcher and trainer at American Airlines, Julie Schreacke, senior operations manager at DFW's Integrated Operations Center, and Theresa Vevea, American Airlines' managing director of Los Angeles International Airport.

“I think it’s interesting how some of our guest speakers take jobs like flight attendants or air traffic control when they first start out and then eventually turn into CEOs and executives,” said Wattman.

Joining UNT’s chapter of AAAE has many benefits besides just meeting industry professionals and fellow students. 

Oftentimes, job opportunities that are not so widely publicized are told to the organization first, so students have a greater chance of finding internships or a job after graduation. Furthermore, students attending AAAE guest speaker meetings or tours can earn professional development credit toward their aviation logistics classes.

To join AAAE, students must attend one guest speaker meeting a month, maintain a 2.5 GPA or higher, and pay their dues ($10 per semester).

The current president and vice president are also looking for new officers to join the organization, so there are leadership opportunities as well.

Olivia Wattman is an aviation logistics senior and has been a part of AAAE since she was a freshman. She was elected as VP her sophomore year and promoted to president as a junior. Wattman is currently a Student Ambassador for the Ryan College of Business and works at Denton Airport as an airfield operations coordinator. Over the summer she will be interning with American Airlines in their supply chain and tech operations department. Her dream career is working for NTSB in accident investigation, but she wants to continue learning all she can about operations in the industry.

Zachary Engels is an aviation logistics senior, striving to become a pilot in the future. He transferred to UNT from Tarrant Community College and joined AAAE as a junior, eventually being elected VP his senior year. He was previously in flight school and plans to return after graduation to complete his private license. His dream career is to become an airline pilot for Southwest, American Airlines, or another large commercial airline.

As for what Wattman and Engels want out of their last semester as leaders of AAAE, here’s what they had to say:

“I want to go out with a bang and have a bunch of tours and guest speakers,” said Engels.

“I want to see the club be passed down. I've gotten a lot from this club and I want other students to too,” said Wattman.

Their next guest speaker is on February 21 with Bruce Nobles, CEO of Jamaican Air who previously worked for American Airlines. 

For more information on AAAE, or to become a member, reach out to Olivia Wattman or Zachary Engels.