Scholarship recipient researches ways to keep pilots safe
Written by TechPurdue // December 1, 2011 // Admitted Students, Alumni & Friends, Aviation Technology, Business & Industry, Current Students, Faculty & Staff, Latest College News, Prospective Students, Students // No comments
A course in industrial and organizational psychology, the Miracle on the Hudson, and a $1,000 scholarship all played a part in getting Jennifer Kirschner to her Ph.D. program in Purdue’s College of Technology.
Kirschner, from Windsor, Conn., was still contemplating possible careers when she took the non-aviation course as part of her aviation technology undergraduate degree plan of study. When classroom discussion turned to Chesley “Sulley” Sullenberger and his efforts to land his disabled airplane in the Hudson River, her aviation ears perked up. She liked the idea of studying the psychology of pilots in an effort to make their jobs safer.
Her master’s thesis focused on research she conducted with Purdue professional flight students. She compared the coping skills of first-year flight students to those of senior students. She found that first-year students were more action oriented during stressful situations while the more experienced students used more emotionally focused coping skills.
With her sights set on a career in human factors research, for an organization such as the Federal Aviation Agency or NASA, Kirschner started her three-year doctoral program this fall. She received a Julie Swengel Diversity Scholarship as part of her financial aid package.
“Even though my assistantship includes a tuition waiver, fees alone cost about a month’s salary every year,” she said. “Receiving the $1,000 scholarship helped reduce my financial burden to a bearable amount. Otherwise, I would have to take out more loans, and I couldn’t continue to do that after my undergraduate education.”
Instead of financial issues, Kirschner is able to focus on her classes and her duties as coordinator for a new online journal and qualitative data analysis assistant for the Department of Aviation Technology.
She touches a lot of research.
As the coordinator of the Journal of Aviation Technology and Engineering (JATE), Kirschner works with the managing editor to assign reviewers and handle day-to-day processes of the online publication.
“Our first issue came out in October, and it already has had a lot of hits from developing countries,” she said. “We’re getting cutting-edge research out to people who can most readily use it.”
The other half of her work day is spent assisting faculty and students with research data analysis using the software package NVivo.
“It’s cool to be a little part of all of these different research projects,” she said.
Find out how to help students like Jennifer achieve their academic and career goals at Purdue.
(Photo: Jennifer Kirschner, who earned a professional flight bachelor’s degree and worked as a flight instructor for four years, sits in one of the University’s new Cirrus flight simulators.)