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Aviation Students Recognized at SEC-AAAE Conference

(L-R) Adam Ackermann, Todd Hauptli, AAAE President and CEO, and Dustin Haubner

Two students from EKU’s Aviation program were recently recognized at the 2019 Southeast Chapter of the American Association of Airport Executives (SEC-AAAE) Conference for their academic achievements. Adam Ackermann (Louisville) and Dustin Haubner (Dry Ridge) both received the organization’s academic scholarships earlier this year worth $2,000 each and also received an invitation to attend the annual conference.

Ackermann, a junior studying Aerospace Management, said the conference was a great way to meet others in the industry he hopes to join after graduation. “The conference was a fantastic experience,” he said. “The networking opportunities were unmatched. I just tried to absorb as much as possible from the professionals in attendance.”

This year’s conference took place in Myrtle Beach, SC and was attended by more than 400 aviation industry professionals representing airports, airlines, and consulting firms from across the country. EKU was the only university in attendance.

“Any chance we get to showcase our students and program to an audience like this, we take advantage,” says Kyle Knezevich, Aviation faculty member and sponsor of the AAAE student chapter at EKU. “The Southeast Chapter of AAAE has been extremely generous in terms of both the scholarships they award our students and in the professional development opportunities they provide. I was thrilled to see Adam and Dustin both take advantage of these this year and they represented us very well.”

Eastern is one of just 11 partner schools that participates in the scholarship program each year and the partnership has been a very rewarding one. In fact, since 2016 eight EKU students have been awarded more than $14,000 in academic scholarships from SEC-AAAE. That amount is significant says Knezevich, but it pales in comparison to the experience the students get from the relationships they form through networking. “There are so many pieces to this industry and flying is just one part of what we do,” he said.  “It’s an industry built on relationships where everybody knows everybody. The sooner your foot is in the door the better.”

For junior Dustin Haubner, that was exactly the impression he left with too. “After attending the conference, I learned just how important the management side of the industry is to the whole operation.” Haubner has career ambitions of flying helicopters for the Army, but is keeping his options open after that. “I could easily see myself fitting in and really enjoying airport management and operations following my flying career.”

The group also has plans to attend the 91st Annual AAAE Conference and Exposition in Boston this June thanks to funding secured through the EKU Student Government Association. That, according to Knezevich, will cement 2019 as a banner year for the student organization. “Each year they raise the bar,” he said. “This will make the first year we have done two conferences back to back and the students made it all happen. They are an amazing group.”

For more information on AAAE at EKU or EKU Aviation visit

Published on April 15, 2019

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