Human Factors Degree Helps Take Her Aviation Career to a New Level

Earning her M.S. in Human Factors degree helped Kate Fraser boost her career as an aviation safety specialist.

M.S. in Human Factors alumna Kate Fraser
M.S. in Human Factors alumna Kate Fraser (Photo: Kate Fraser)

Kate Fraser (‘18) first met Dr. Alan Stolzer, Embry-Riddle professor and Dean of the College of Aviation at the Daytona Beach campus, during her time at the General Aviation Manufacturers Association. The two crossed paths again when she worked at the Federal Aviation Administration’s Office of Accident Investigation and Prevention.

Flexible Education for Working Professionals

With her background as a pilot, Fraser was at a point where she wanted to expand her career options. After much discussion with Dr. Stolzer and an exploration of what Embry-Riddle Worldwide could offer, she decided to consider the university’s online learning opportunities.

“The one thing I did not want was something where I would have to sit in front of a computer every Wednesday night, or whatever it might be; because I was traveling almost every week,” she said.

Fortunately, the flexibility of the Worldwide Campus fit perfectly with her schedule. She also found that the M.S. in Human Factors (MSHF) program was a great fit for her professional interests.

Exploring the Role of Human Factors in Aviation

Fraser was fascinated with the field of human factors, as human error plays a big role in aviation accidents and mishaps. She particularly enjoyed her cognitive psychology class, which explored how humans operate and how the brain works.

Thanks to the courses in the MSHF program, she was able to broaden her overall perspective as a leader in safety. Fraser said she developed an improved understanding of human nature and why we behave the way we do.

In her current role as Director of Safety Assurance at NetJets, a worldwide leader in private aviation, Fraser oversees implementation of the company’s safety management system and other programs within it.

Connecting Education and Industry

On top of her day job, Fraser serves on Embry-Riddle’s College of Aviation Industry Advisory Board. As a recent addition to the board, she looks forward to helping ensure that the college continues to provide a positive experience for all students.

She is also one of five other Eagle alumnae serving on the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Women in Aviation Advisory Board. Their ultimate goal is to evaluate the barriers women face in the industry and develop recommendations to address them.

Given the projected demand for talent in aviation, the industry needs more people to support it. Fortunately, there is a growing emphasis on diversity to help increase the number of women and other underrepresented groups, Fraser said.

She encourages those who are currently pursuing their education to have confidence in their abilities, even if others may not.

“Some of that comes with time. But it’s hard, especially as a young woman in the industry, to not take detractors seriously,” she said. “If I could tell myself that while I was still in school, that would be my number one piece of advice.”

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