Eagle Grads Bring Family Affair Full Circle After 60 Years
When Brady Slaughter (’21) graduated from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University with his B.S. in Mechanical Engineering, it helped him launch the career he had always dreamed about.
It also helped deepen his connection with his grandfather, Bob Slaughter, who graduated from Embry-Riddle in 1961 when the university was building its reputation as an aviation education powerhouse from a site near Miami International Airport.
Bob, now 82, earned his Airframe & Powerplant license and gained a skillset that saw him through a stint in the U.S. Air Force, helped him earn his commercial pilot’s license and then land a job as a maintenance technician at National Airlines, one of the dominant carriers in Miami during the 1960s and 70s.
“I went to National Airlines because they had an opening, and out of all the people who applied, I was the only one qualified because I had my degree from Embry-Riddle, the A&P license,” Bob said.
Bob stayed with National after the airline merged with Pan Am, which itself went under in 1991. He continued working as a maintenance technician for several carriers before retiring from AirTran (now part of Southwest) in 2007.
Along with the way, Bob said he worked on aircraft ranging from “Lockheed Electras to DC-10s and 717s, 727s, 737s, 747s, 757s, everything. I worked on them all.”
Although Brady was aware of his grandad’s aviation career, it was until after he had chosen to attend Embry-Riddle that he found out Bob was an alum. That the two shared a love for the inner workings of machines was more or less a given.
“I think I knew I wanted to be an engineer since middle school after I found out what engineers did,” Brady said. “And then I saw Riddle that they had aerospace and mechanical and everything else. And they had EcoCAR and all that stuff, so I was like, ‘Yeah!’”
Brady’s dad Brian Slaughter, a veteran now serving in the Army Reserves as a Colonel and Brigade Commander, is a Senior Supply Chain Strategy and Capture Manager with General Dynamics Mission Systems. Because Brian didn’t use his G.I. Bill benefits, he passed them along to his son.
“I was able to use the full benefits and the Yellow Ribbon scholarship to go to Riddle and get a good engineering degree out of it,” Brady said.
He also got a great career, accepting a full-time job offer he received from Oshkosh Corporation in Wisconsin the month before he graduated. After nearly a year at the renowned maker of specialty trucks and access equipment, Brady is one happy Embry-Riddle alum.
“I love it,” he said of his job. “The team is awesome; the company puts employees first and it shows with how long they've been there [since 1917]. It’s basically the perfect company to work for and be there for a long time.”
Living and working in the city that hosts EAA AirVenture, one of the world’s premier aviation events, also gave Brady a chance to invite his grandparents up to attend the 2022 show. Bob, who sported an Embry-Riddle T-shirt, went to an alumni event with Brady and spent the rest of the day immersed in all things aviation.
“My grandparents really enjoyed the airshow events and alum event, along with me showing them where I work just east of the airport and some of the trucks I work on,” Brady said. “I think that brings it even more full circle.”
While Bob spent his career working on aircraft, Brady’s focus is closer to the ground. He was immediately attracted to the EcoCAR project at Embry-Riddle, which is aimed at developing new technology for more efficient and eco-friendly ground vehicles.
“EcoCAR is focused on now and the future engineering stuff with hybrid technology and all that stuff,” said Brady, who worked with the EcoCAR team as his senior capstone project. “Being able to supply the engineering aspects within the group, that definitely helped me in getting this job.”
He also credits his two internships, including one last summer with a different division of Oshkosh Corporation, with paving a smoother path for his career to follow.
Grandad Bob is thrilled his grandson has graduated from his alma mater.
“Everybody here is totally proud of Brady and his accomplishments and everything he did, and Embry-Riddle was the right place just for him to complete his education,” Bob said. “And it turned out to be a good move.”