AAAE/ACC Airport Symposium YP Mentors Program

AVCON attended the AAAE/ACC Airport Planning, Design, and Construction Symposium in Anaheim, California last week, March 1-3, 2023. The conference had record breaking attendance and offered refreshing sessions on topics like sustainability and resiliency, new technologies, and Advanced Air Mobility (AAM). With this foresight into the future of the industry, up and coming professionals need to be well-equipped to take on any obstacle. That is why the Young Professional (YP) Mentor Program that runs in tandem with the AAAE/ACC Symposium is such a successful and pivotal experience, for both the mentor and the mentee.

This year, AVCON’s Vice President of Aviation Services, Mr. Craig Sucich, PE volunteered as a YP Mentor and was able to guide his group of mentees to a first-place victory in their 2-day long networking scavenger hunt. Additionally, Travis Bird, PE, an Engineer in our Charlotte, NC office participated in the YP program, gaining invaluable networking and career building experiences. Although Craig and Travis were on different ends of the YP program, they had similar ideas regarding networking and growing your personal brand.

Travis’s favorite aspect of the program was the structure and goal-mapping tools and tips provided by the mentors. He remarked, “I am still in the early days of making connections and building my network outside of our organization. The YP Program provided immediate connections to other professionals throughout the industry and facilitated interactions with more seasoned professionals through the scavenger hunt.”  These connections and interactions encouraged the young engineers to step out of their comfort zones and become more engaged with their peers in what might have been a very overwhelming environment.  

On the flipside, Craig enjoyed interacting with young professionals from all different markets and roles within the aviation industry, he said “Seeing their enthusiasm for what they do and how they fit into the industry” was the highlight for him.

Craig and Travis both learned a lot from their short time at the conference participating in the program, and they both highlighted how great of a networking tool conferences and mentorship programs like this are for all ages and experience levels. “The vast majority of participants at the conference were more than happy to stop and chat with the young professionals. As simple as it sounds, the best way to make a connection is to just get out there and shake some hands.” Travis expressed.  Being able to expand your professional network is a skill that you will work on for your entire career, because there is always room for improvement!

Being a mentor means being a role model and a guidance point for someone, and Craig views this as the next step in his career. He is ready to dedicate time to teach and provide support to the next generation. He says, “In addition to helping them (young professionals) with their own career development, it allows me to stay current with the thoughts and trends within the industry.” It’s crucial for people of all ages and disciplines to stay current on the surrounding thoughts and ideas in their industry; it’s how we all learn and evolve, always working towards a better future.

“You are never going to know everything about the industry” says Travis, “It’s constantly changing and adapting to new needs and technologies, even in things such as asphalt and concrete paving. Attending conferences provides an opportunity to stay up to date on current design and research topics within the FAA and Airfield Engineering world. Being open to learning new concepts and putting myself in positions to continue learning are key to staying at the top of our industry.”

No matter what stage in your career you are in, there is always room for growth, improvement, and new connections!

Being open to learning from others, giving advice and insight, and taking it- is the key to developing your personal skills and your professional career.

AVCON provides many ways to enhance your career growth with things like professional training, licensure assistance, and tuition reimbursement. Ready to Transform Today’s Ideas into Tomorrow’s Reality? Check out our open positions throughout the Southeast U.S.: AVCON Careers

Craig Sucich, PE

Vice President, Aviation Services

Mr. Sucich is a civil engineer with over 24 years of experience managing and designing complex airport development projects. He also has extensive experience managing general engineering consulting contracts for airport clients.

Travis Bird, PE

Civil Engineer, Aviation

Mr. Bird is a civil engineer with 5 years of experience in the aviation sector. Since graduating from The University of Central Florida, he has completed numerous airport improvement projects such as taxiway and runway rehabilitations, and has a solid foundation of surveying and inspections.