Embry-Riddle Professors Use Expertise to Prepare Students

Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University is widely known for the quality of its faculty and the real-world experience they bring into their classrooms and labs. Our students learn from the best and brightest in the field and gain insight into the intricacies of the industry before ever entering the workforce.

Dr. Ilhan Akbas, Dr. Kaela Martin & Dr. Jennah Perry (Photo: Embry-Riddle)
Dr. Ilhan Akbas, Dr. Kaela Martin & Dr. Jennah Perry (Photo: Embry-Riddle)

While Embry-Riddle’s curriculum teaches the skills and knowledge needed for success in the industry, our faculty also impart first-hand knowledge from their time in the field. This transfer of knowledge allows our graduates to be prepared for the real-life scenarios they’ll experience in their jobs. Three Embry-Riddle professors share how they use their professional expertise to prepare students for their careers.

Dr. Ilhan Akbas, assistant professor of Electrical Engineering & Computer Science, has eight years of experience in both the defense and software industries and uses it to narrow down course content and provide examples for a more realistic work environment.

“My professional experiences help me both understand students’ view of industry and explain the specific skills needed for jobs,” shared Dr. Akbas. “The electrical engineering and computer science faculty are very active in research projects and industry collaboration. The department also has good relations with the industry, which leads to various internship opportunities.”

Those industry connections are essential for understanding the professions students are interested in exploring. Dr. Akbas encourages having a variety of connections within a particular industry for a broader view of the field. He also stressed the importance of mentorships for academic and professional guidance.

Dr. Kaela Martin, associate professor of Aerospace Engineering, brings extensive research experience to Embry-Riddle's College of Engineering. She has published studies in publications such as “Acta Astronautica” and “International Journal of Engineering Education.”

“Embry-Riddle faculty are really invested in their students and chose the job because they are passionate about teaching and developing students,” said Dr. Martin. “The Undergraduate Research Institute (URI) offers many opportunities for students to be mentored by faculty working on research projects including funded ones. Both the College of Engineering and URI also help with travel costs for students to present their research at conferences and learn about cutting-edge research in the field they are studying.”

Additionally, Embry-Riddle’s faculty often develop partnerships with industry that allow them to further enhance their curriculum and the student experience.

“I was fortunate to work at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory for three summers through a visiting faculty program,” she said. “I worked in the systems engineering department, which helped me to better incorporate systems engineering into my senior design projects.”

Dr. Jennah Perry, department chair of Applied Aviation Sciences, has nearly a decade as a Flight Services Specialist for Lockheed Martin. She invites full-time industry professionals into the classroom as guest lecturers as a way to expose students to the realities of the air traffic management (ATM) profession and hiring process.

“Students benefit by gaining real-world industry knowledge and experiences as part of their curriculum,” she explains.

Our faculty are passionate about teaching and guiding students on their journey to professional success, offering new opportunities for them to learn and grow through student competitions, career mentoring and participating in state-of-the-art projects.

“The faculty at Embry-Riddle are unique as each professor brings a different background and skill set to the classroom,” Dr. Perry stated.

Bringing that unique background and industry experience into the classrooms and labs ensures our graduates are soaring ahead of the flock.

“Students are successful because the students we have are driven, ambitious and motivated, and faculty care about their success and see it through,” shared Dr. Perry.