Matthew: How study can fly beyond the classroom

Matthew is studying a Bachelor of Aviation majoring in Flight Operations. Aviation has always been a significant part of Matthew’s life as his father was a pilot. His career, therefore, inspired Matthew to become a pilot at a young age. He is passionate about aviation, cycling and camping.

When people ask what I study at university and I tell them, ‘I study a Bachelor of Aviation, majoring in Flight Operations’, they reply with, ‘Oh, so you fly planes at university?’ Well, that is one part of my degree; however, a Bachelor of Aviation at USQ offers much more than just learning how to fly an aircraft.

If you’re interested in finding out more about what Aviation has to offer, let me tell you about what industry and hands-on experience I have encountered throughout my studies so far.

Aviation Industry Readiness Scheme (AIRS)

Whilst on-campus, all aviation students take part in the Aviation Industry Readiness Scheme (AIRS) program. This program is designed to get students ready for the airline industry through teaching a range of skills and techniques that are developed via hands-on, written and communication tasks. By participating in presentations, activities and professional talks, students further develop key competencies required of aviation professionals. This program has further led myself and my fellow students to experience some amazing opportunities within the aviation industry.

Professional visits

An exciting part of the AIRS program is the professional visits, where current pilots, airline operators/services and aviation-related companies come and speak to program participants. This gives students the opportunity to gain first-hand industry insight by providing us with the opportunity to ask questions such as how these industry professionals got to where they are in their careers. These visits are also a great chance for students to network. I personally use LinkedIn to stay in touch with contacts that I have met through the AIRS program, as it is great for networking and building a personal brand within your industry.

AIRS Activities

Throughout the year, aviation students organise activities to visit industry workplaces. I was recently offered the opportunity to collect customer data as a volunteer for two days at the Toowoomba Wellcamp Airport. This data was required for the airport to develop a greater understanding of the community’s need for air services and facilities. My role was to help collect data on tablets and to talk to the customers about the airport. I personally found this experience eye-opening as I had not done anything similar before. In addition, it gave me a chance to see airport operations during a full-service day, learn more about the airport’s history and future, and further develop my social skills.

I have also had the opportunity to visit the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) Base Amberley to see the air traffic control tower and C-17 Globemasters. This rare and valuable opportunity further developed my knowledge on military aircraft and operations, but I also found it especially amazing being able to see the aircraft in action. This experience was great as it allowed me to create contacts in the RAAF, tour a C-17 from the cockpit to the roof, and observe military air traffic operations and the professionalism of the RAAF personnel.

The simulator

Certainly, what makes studying my degree different to others is having access to the Boeing 737-800 replica simulator. This simulator is used during the flight laboratory course to give an idea of multi-crew operations and flying an aircraft of this capability. The experience to fly in this aircraft during second semester was unbelievable. The concentration and skills needed to fly the aircraft with your co-pilot include great communication skills and knowledge of the cockpit and its various instruments. This was another great industry opportunity as many airlines around the world use this aircraft, and, lucky for me, USQ has integrated this into the course.

Being a pilot is more than just flying a plane, it’s also about people management. We not only fly, but represent the airline we work for as well. We have a responsibility to provide a great customer experience for passengers, and to create a positive work environment and rapport with crew-members on both a professional and social level. Therefore, it is essential that we have a well-rounded education that includes these amazing practical aspects and builds our communication skills, confidence, and ability to present ourselves and our industry at a high standard.

If you’re keen on seeking industry experience beyond your degree, USQ’s Industry Experience Program is a great way to get yourself out there and make your name known in the professional workplace.


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