Airframe Master Tech Darwin Godeman grew up a mere three miles from the airport. He dreamed of piloting one of the planes he routinely watched take off and land. Realizing his dream was an expensive one, Darwin pursued certification for aircraft maintenance instead.
“I remember what it was like to have those dreams, so I do whatever I can to foster those dreams in young people today, and not just to become a pilot,” says Darwin. “Because skilled mechanics, technicians, and inspectors are retiring, we need to entice young people into the industry.”
Engineering Team Lead Tracy Bohaboj agrees that we need to encourage young people to consider aviation careers.
“I grew up in a small town in Nebraska, and there weren’t a lot of engineers or women in the aviation field to serve as role models,” says Tracy. “Although my dad could build anything, he hadn’t gone to college. It was from him, though, that I first heard the word engineer.”
Tracy took a personality profile and was intrigued to find that she matched as an engineer. Between the profile and what she’d learned from her dad, she applied to Iowa State and earned a Bachelor’s degree in Aerospace Engineering.
“I welcome the opportunity to bring along other women and men,” says Tracy. “I feel it’s important to encourage young people to focus on their strengths and take advantage of their opportunities in case they don’t see themselves in that role.”
Several years ago, Michael Hill, manager of Engineering, heard about OBAP (the Organization of Black Aerospace Professionals), and their chapter at WMU (Western Michigan University) in Kalamazoo, Michigan.
When 28 WMU students who are members of OBAP visited the Duncan Aviation facility in Battle Creek, Michigan, Michael served as a tour guide. He wanted to make connections with the students, share Duncan Aviation’s culture and values, and show them the variety of careers in business aviation.
“We are fortunate to have a university close by that’s preparing students for careers in aviation. What a great resource! We need to further develop these relationships,” says Michael. “Plus, it gave me an opportunity to talk about careers in business aviation and give them a tour.”
Darwin, Tracy, and Michael feel that participating in industry organizations is a great way to share their passion for aviation.
“I feel it’s important to encourage young people to focus on their strengths and take advantage of their opportunities...”
–Engineering Team Lead Tracy Bohaboj
Darwin is a member of the Nebraska Aviation Maintenance Seminar Committee, and among other things, the organization plans an IA renewal seminar each year. Attendees include FBOs and small shops that don’t have access to the kinds of training or industry information that team members at Duncan Aviation routinely have.
“We provide exhibitors, speakers, and other industry representatives who keep attendees current on the latest technology in aviation and where the industry is heading,” says Darwin. “The opportunities for networking are invaluable, and we partner with the Nebraska Aviation Council to provide scholarships to students who are studying for aviation maintenance degrees and certificates.”
Recently, Tracy was asked to participate in the NBAA’s (National Business Aircraft Association’s) inaugural mentoring program.
After applying and getting accepted, Jay Evans, who is the NBAA Director of Professonal Development and a retired US Air Force pilot, started coaching Tracy in her leadership skills to help her with her team here at Duncan Aviation. They set goals and discussed career growth and educational opportunities. After six months, Jay recommended that Tracy apply to become a mentor in the program, and she’s working through the process now.
“It’s great to be able to inspire someone to believe in her or himself,” says Tracy. “Even if there’s no formal mentoring program at their school or company, I encourage young women and men to find someone they respect, and ask for a formal mentoring relationship.”
Michael sees mentoring and participating in industry organizations as a great way to spread the word about Duncan Aviation and recruit talented, bright, young people for careers.
“We as a company and an industry need to diversify. Diversity of age, color, and experience brings a diversity of ideas, which will give us new ways of seeing and resolving challenges. The young African American men and women in OBAP are passionate about their future careers, and they bring a diversity of ideas as well as skin tone.”