CLE Tours and Speakers Engage Aviation Next Gen

CLE Tours and Speakers Engage Aviation Next Gen

November 1, 2023

Events & Updates

The Kent State Chapter of the American Association of Airport Executives (AAAE) visited Cleveland Hopkins International Airport (CLE) on Friday, October 20, 2023, for a tour of the CLE facilities.  Due to overwhelming interest from the students – with nineteen participating - the tour was split into two groups. 

Airport Operations facilitated the tour, which enabled the students to see much of the Airport’s functions, including the airfield, ARFF Station, Air Traffic Control (tower and TRACON), Airport Operations, and United Maintenance overhauling a B737. 

“Our goal is to take the enthusiasm of these students and use that to show them it is applicable as a career option,” said Bill Horvatin, Superintendent of Airport Operations, who was the leader of the tour.

The group included a mixture of students majoring in Aviation Management, Flight Professionals (pilot), UAS (drone technology), and Air Traffic Control.  Many had minors that focused on one of the topics mentioned above in which they were not already majoring. 

"One of the core values at Kent State is experiential learning,” said Philip Hurst, Kent State Student and President of the KSU-AAAE. “To have the opportunity to have a first-hand view of my career goals after graduation is something that I am forever thankful to the operations staff at CLE.”

Each and every employee at the various locations visited were extremely helpful and accommodating to the students - making everyone feel welcome.  The students expressed great interest in seeing more of the Airport, including Snow Operations and the Consolidated Maintenance Facility with all of its equipment. 

Their enthusiasm and professionalism was contagious, and they had an ample number of intelligent questions to ask. 

“I’ve been the beneficiary of much help over the years, so I look at this as my duty to pass on the same,” said Horvatin. “I hope to assist in transforming their enthusiasm and education into the next generation of Aviation Professionals.”

The Kent State Chapter of AAAE is not the only student group to seek out the experiences of those in the aviation industry. In September, John Hogan, Airport Air Service Development Manager, spoke in Columbus for The Ohio State University (OSU) Aviation Management Organization’s (AMO) AAAE student chapter.

“This group was quite engaging,” Hogan said. “There was a line of students waiting to chat afterwards. They were interested in talking about their own airports, internships, and looking for advice about starting their careers and getting their foot in the door.”

Greg Kociba, a Lecturer for OSU’s Center for Aviation Studies, says the university has seen a 100% increase in student enrollment in aviation studies over the past six years – with 525 currently enrolled. At OSU, students can major in the College of Engineering for a Bachelor of Science in Aviation; in the College of Arts and Sciences, which offers a Bachelor of Arts in Social Sciences Air Transportation; or in the Fisher College of Business for a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration Aviation Management.

“The majority of our (AMO) members are interested in going into the business side of aviation – airlines and airports,” said Patrick Gallagher, AMO president and peer advisor. “However, we have many Air Transportation majors (pilot track), Aviation Engineering students and other business concentrations such as Finance, Logistics, and Marketing. And, some of our members are Certified Flight Instructors (CFI’s) for the OSU airport and surrounding flight schools.”

Hogan says his presentations to student groups usually start with his own personal journey working in aviation, which is proof of the many jobs in aviation - from starting “at the bottom at $3.50 per hour at Burke Lakefront Airport” through his current duties in management. He works through an overview of aviation in Cleveland, impressing on participants that CLE is proud of a number of “firsts” in aviation history, including notables such as: being the first municipally-owned airport in the U.S.; first to offer interstate passenger service; first to have airfield lighting systems and an air traffic control tower; and being the first airport in the U.S. to connect directly with a rail transit line.  He then turns to more recent news, sharing information about the current airlines we have and the markets they serve, along with recent successes for CLE and where the airport is going in the future.

Gallagher says having guest speakers is one of the most beneficial aspects of the AMO and this allows students to gain a better perspective of the jobs available in aviation-related fields.

“I’ve made it a goal with my executive team to bring in speakers from diverse backgrounds to allow students new to aviation to really get a full-circle understanding of how large the aviation industry is,” said Gallagher, citing the group hosts speakers from aviation insurance, air service development, airport operations, fleet strategy and loyalty card programming from various airlines, air traffic control, airport planning, and more.

“The list goes on and on – and it just proves that there are so many careers in aviation that it’s almost impossible not to find your niche,” Gallagher said. “Whatever your interests are, we can get you connected with the right people so you can learn as much as possible about that career.”

Hogan agrees.

“There are tens of thousands of opportunities and CLE is an option for a lot of people, so let’s wave our banner,” said Hogan. “Let’s try to help the next generation along. Speaking opportunities like this allow us to bring personality to our brand – and shows that Hopkins is willing to step forward and share our knowledge. It leaves a positive impression when we’re able to help in someone’s career – maybe point them in the right direction.”


Airport Educational Tours are available through the CLE Art Program. Tours are currently being booked for 2024. You can learn more about tours at CLE here. CLE also has aviation subject matter experts who are available to speak to your group. Please contact Cindy Haney at or 216.265.6109 for more information.