Business Eagles Get Behind the Scenes at Miami International Airport

Business Eagles Vivek Padmanaban and Amina Anaroua explore the J-Tower, a hub that routes aircraft to the appropriate terminal gates, at Miami International Airport.

You arrive at the airport, check in for your flight, navigate through security and head to your gate. Passengers typically don’t think of an airport as a multi-faceted business organization that relies on numerous partners to safely and efficiently move both people and aircraft through a facility 24 hours a day/7 days a week. However, that may not be the case if you’re a student at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.

Recently, students from the school’s Daytona Beach Campus traveled to South Florida for a first-hand view of the Miami International Airport (MIA). The College of Business coordinated the trip as part of the Business Eagles program, designed to launch high-performing business students into the competitive aviation and aerospace industry.

“My hope is that industry trips like this one can help students gain an understanding of the inner workings of a company and ignite a passion or fan the flames of a current passion,” explained Sharon Patrick, advisement counselor for the College of Business. “Many students are interested in aviation and aerospace, but they may not be aware of the many layers and opportunities that exist working at an airport or for an airline.”

Upon arrival, airport chief of staff and senior policy advisor Joe Napoli greeted the students.

"Congratulations to you for going to Embry-Riddle; it's a renowned institution and we have many Embry-Riddle employees,” shared Napoli. “What you are studying now is the heart and soul of what we do here each and every day."

miami group shot

Throughout the morning, the group toured the airport - which transported 44.1 million passengers on more than 100 air carriers in 2017. Additionally, Miami International Airport is the top U.S. airport for international freight.

One of the most interesting tour stops was the J – Tower, a hub that routes aircraft to the appropriate terminal gates. Students also explored the airport’s runways and other points of interest like the American Airlines hangar and airside passenger and cargo areas.

Students later visited with airport executives who discussed their job responsibilities, ranging from operations and marketing to noise abatement, wildlife and aviation enforcement.

“My favorite part was when MIA Staff and Chris Mangos shared with us the airport story and more about what they do,” said Maria Kaselow Salas, an Aviation Business student. “It helped me understand more about the airport perspectives. What I learned during this trip will help me in my future career whether it is in an airline or in an airport.” 

Fellow Business Eagle Leonard Rodriguez agreed, “I enjoyed the opportunity to participate in the networking lunch with the airport directors. This was an excellent chance to meet the individuals who contribute to the success of this airport. It was evident that each of the directors genuinely cared about the future generation of airport executives. Moreover, the presentation on air service development was topnotch and provided me a greater overview of airport and airline relations.”

The Business Eagles typically plan one or two industry site visits per year, offering students the opportunity to explore the various fields and job opportunities within aviation.