Stephanie Smith, 28, of Albany, OR, couldn't believe it when she received the message that she was the winner of Daniel Webster College's NBAA raffle for a free online MBA for Aviation Professionals. Her husband, she said, saved the telephone message about her winning without saying what the message was about beforehand. "I played it once, then had to sit down and play it again," she recalled. "We're all pretty excited here."
She originally had seen the story about Daniel Webster's raffle in an online aviation newsletter and since she was in Orlando for business, made the Daniel Webster booth at NBAA one of her destinations. She starts the MBA for Aviation Professionals on Jan. 22, 2007, joining others who have decided to pursue their master's degree online with an aviation focus without many of the challenges students find attending a traditional MBA campus program.
Smith holds an undergraduate degree in mechanical engineering from Oregon State University and has worked as a mechanical engineer for Garmin AT, a subsidiary of Garmin International (www.garmin.com) for the past three years. She sees Daniel Webster's graduate degree as an opportunity to expand her opportunities at Garmin. "I'd like to see what more I can do to support Garmin's future interests."
An MBA, she added, will also give her a different focus. “While I have a technical background with the mechanical engineering degree and work experience through Garmin, I feel the MBA for Aviation Professionals will provide a more solid business background. For me, this program will allow me to learn important and necessary skills, essential for working within our organization and with others, and allowing me to look beyond the technical aspects of my work.”
Securing an MBA for Smith was not something that came up suddenly when she read about Daniel Webster's raffle. "I had been interested in an MBA for quite a while," she said, "but found that most MBAs would interfere too much with my work schedule and family life." It was overwhelming, she added, to investigate all of the MBA programs available to determine which might be the best “fit.” She really became excited about the online aspect of Daniel Webster's and the aviation focus was just the icing on the cake. "I was absolutely inspired by the aviation focus!"
"Aviation is a part of everything I do. I work with avionics installations and aircraft on a daily basis at Garmin, work on airplane projects at home, spend time with other pilots at the Albany, OR, airport (S12), and have developed friendships with pilots around the world. My vision is to see aviation become even safer and more profitable, to keep large and small aviation-related businesses going strong."
At the Salem, OR, campus where she works with approximately 165 other Garmin employees, Smith does mechanical design work and analysis for aircraft installation of Garmin avionics.
She doesn't leave aviation behind when she leaves work. Both she and her husband Dennis are pilots and currently own a Piper Tomahawk, which they fly as often as they can. Smith is currently training for her IFR rating.
With the start of Daniel Webster's MBA for Aviation Professionals just weeks away, Smith says that everyone, from her husband and parents to her managers and coworkers, are excited for her. "My parents are especially excited," she said. It's her parents' goal to see all three of their daughters earn baccalaureate degrees; Smith is the only one thus far to have done that, although her sisters are close to completing theirs. Her pursuance of a master's degree, she hopes, will be the impetus for her sisters to continue their own education.
Selected as a winner in the raffle during NBAA in October, Smith's interaction with Daniel Webster's personnel has been very positive. "No complaints," she laughed.
Would she have pursued a Daniel Webster MBA for Aviation Professionals even if she hadn't won the raffle? “It was very possible,” she said. “The more I learned about the program from the initial comment in the newsletter prior to NBAA, to the information and helpful conversations with DWC representatives at the NBAA booth, to the literature and Web site details I reviewed after the convention, the more I knew this program perfectly suited my goals and situation. I could see the program structure would allow for a balance of work and family life, while the cohort method of education would provide a unique and enlightening experience. These factors, the importance of continuing education in my life, and especially the focus on the aviation industry, made this program most desirable.”
“The interest in earning an MBA designed for those in aviation and delivered online was just huge,” said DWC Professor Gerald Fairbairn, director of the program, who helped manage both the crowds and the booth. “Many individuals in the industry seeking to further their career or skills are unable to take a traditional MBA program. Their work may involve travel and unavailability for regular classes. Our online program, especially with its aviation focus, is very attractive to those who are comfortable with the Internet and want to enhance their opportunities.”
Daniel Webster, one of the oldest names in professional aviation education, has combined its industry experience with the latest technology, making earning that next degree both convenient and “virtual.” The classroom goes where the student goes, as the two-year MBA Program, designed for Aviation Professionals, is offered entirely online, and adapts to the constantly-changing aviation professional’s work environment. The next class starts at the end of January 2007.
A three-semester, 13-course online curriculum allows students to participate in online presentations and chats with industry professionals and to utilize cutting-edge technology from Macromedia Breeze and Blackboard. Students learn from the best flight management and business professionals in the field and study alongside professionals like themselves, without an on-campus requirement.
The MBA for Aviation Professionals uses the successful “cohort” model, where students who start the program move through the entire curriculum together, resulting in a built-in support network. Many of the courses are identical to the campus-based MBA program, but designed for online learning and with a tilt towards aviation issues with the use of case studies, papers, and examples drawn from the aviation industry; four of the program’s 13 courses focus specifically on the unique issues of the aviation industry.
Additionally, the college is looking a developing a future certificate program that would include those four aviation courses.
Daniel Webster’s MBA for Aviation Professionals has been found to be ideal for a wide range of professionals: managers currently working in the aviation industry; pilots, mechanics or air traffic controllers who would like to move into management; members of the U.S. military preparing for a promotion or transitioning to the civilian workforce; and others with a bachelor’s degree from a regionally-accredited college or university and a minimum of three years of professional work experience.
By the end of Daniel Webster’s program, students will not only have the broad foundation of a traditional MBA degree, but an in-depth understanding of the challenges facing the aviation industry today, as well as the confidence to meet those challenges.
For more information, visit aviation.dwc.edu or call 866-458-7525.