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Professional Pilot Leadership Initiative Pilots Spend the Week at Cheyney University’s National Summer Transportation Institute Program for High School Students

July 24, 2014

Area high school students participating in the National Summer Transportation Institute Program at Cheyney University of Pennsylvania.  This week’s theme, facilitated by Brianda Adams (in white pants) and Becky Roman-Amador (in black dress), helps them focus on careers in the aviation industry.

Area high school students participating in the National Summer Transportation Institute Program at Cheyney University of Pennsylvania. This week’s theme, facilitated by Brianda Adams (in white pants) and Becky Roman-Amador (in black dress), helps them focus on careers in the aviation industry.

 Doesn’t every kid dream of flying?  The high school students attending the National Summer Transportation Institute (NSTI) program at Cheyney University of Pennsylvania are getting closer to flying than they might have imagined.  The students attend the program free of charge. The program has been offered for more than 10 years during the summer at the University and introduces the students to the many career opportunities in the field of transportation, including aviation, which could await them.

This week, James “Flash” Gordon and Becky Roman-Amador, both pilots and members of the Organization of Black Aerospace Professionals (OBAP), and Brianda Adams, a Delaware State University aviation and French student, are helping facilitate the Aviation Career Education (ACE) Academy at Cheyney University as part of this year’s NSTI program.  The curriculum covers aviation history, flight instruments and flight controls, traffic pattern operation, military aviation, aerodynamics, and airport signs and markings.
 
After returning to Cheyney’s campus Wednesday following a field trip to ACE Academy at Delaware State University and the Air Mobility Command Museum with the campers, Roman-Amador was energized by the changes she observed in the students in just a few days. “They have changed since Monday and are opening up. They are letting down their guards and beginning to dream,” she remarked. “Today they used the simulators and actually flew the plane. That changed their lives – it literally opened the door for them. We know that 99% of them won’t become pilots but we have changed the course. Now, they can do anything.”
 
Trained as an electrical engineer, Roman-Amador completed her civilian pilot training at Ohio’s Wright-Patterson Air Force Base Aero Club (now called the new MacAir Aero Club) and became a flight instructor.  A major with the 121st Air Refueling Wing in the Ohio Air National Guard, she is the recipient of the 2009 Amelia Earhart Scholarship Memorial. In addition, Roman-Amador is a graduate of the Professional Pilot Leadership Initiative (PPLI) program and currently works with PPLI’s Leadership Coordination Team to help other women realize their dreams. Based at NY’s JFK Airport, she flies the Airbus 321 for Jet Blue and is an active member of the DC Chapter of the Ninety-Nines which represents all female pilots (3% of all professional pilots) and supports and mentors any woman in the aviation industry. As a Hispanic woman pilot, a “double minority,” Roman-Amador is proud that she breaks the stereotype. “When you see someone that looks like you, it’s inspiring,” she insists.
 
James Gordon, born into a military family in Ohio, spent many years traveling the world. A graduate of The Department of Defense High School in England, Gordon attended Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, earning a BS degree in Aeronautical Science. A trained pilot and flight instructor, he flew F-16s for the Air National Guard for eight years doing border protection and drug enforcement missions. A trained F-16 Test Pilot, he also served as assistant weapons officer and award/decorations officer. Today, Gordon is an International MD-11 Instructor Captain with United Parcel Service and has over 8,000 hours of flying experience.

The ACE Academy, run entirely by volunteer pilots, is being offered in collaboration with the Organization of Black Aerospace Professionals (OBAP). Tours of aviation-related facilities including the Delaware Air National Guard Base and the Philadelphia Airport and Tower bring the industry to life in behind-the-scenes field trips specifically arranged for ACE Academy participants. 

NSTI accepts students in 10th, 11th, and 12th grade on Cheyney’s campus in Chester County, Pennsylvania and runs weekdays through August 1, 2014. Throughout the program, the students participate in an intensive program focused on the STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) disciplines as well as ACE Academy, and ecology and environmental biology as it relates to transportation. Additional activities include a transportation career fair, student bridge building projects, and several other field trips. A research and design project on sustainable communities will culminate with a field trip to an Amish Community in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.

This educational initiative is a partnership between the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) and Cheyney University. The program vision is to develop a diverse, well-qualified workforce for the transportation industry.