Students are representing Auburn University this week at one of the largest fly-ins in the world. The Striped Wings Ambassadors are in Oshkosh Wisconsin to promote the Aviation Department.
One major way in which they gather support for the program is through the EAA AirVenture Oshkosh Fly-in. According to the EAA AirVenture website, this event has been taking place for 65 years, 48 of which have been in Oshkosh, Wisconsin.
Auburn’s Striped Wings Ambassadors program was started in the spring of 2015. Michael Rogers, director of the Striped Wings Student Ambassadors, has been going to Oshkosh for the past three years.
Their main goal at the event is to make connections. They have a booth set up in one of the four main hangers, which allows people to see them more easily. In addition, they have one of their planes set up in the Textron Cessna display with seven or eight others.
So far during this event, which began Monday, July 24, the Striped Wings have already spoken to 500 people. This was the full number for Monday which surpassed their record of 385 in a day from last year.
“People are starting to recognize the Auburn aviation name more and more every year. And it’s been a fantastic improvement,” Rogers said.
Rogers, who works in the office in the airport and has been helping to manage Camp War eagle sessions, said he has noticed students arriving that have been at Oshkosh in the past.
Their hope is to convince prospective students that Auburn’s aviation program is a viable option for those interested in flight.
“Our main objective is to make connections with people,” Rogers said. “So if that is taking a pair of auburn aviation wings and giving them to a young child so that they might get that interest in aviation. Their parents might remember that it was the auburn aviation ambassadors that gave them that pin and they might remember our program 15 years from now.”
“Hopefully if we draw enough of a connection we can actually get them to come visit Auburn and then maybe enroll in school, so that’s the main goal,” Rogers said.
Another aim for this year’s event is to connect with Auburn alumni.
The Striped Wings brought 10 gallons of Toomer’s lemonade with them to the event so they can “represent the auburn family the right way."
With them, the Striped Ambassadors also brought an alumni book that is presented to alumni to sign as a way to connect. Within a day and a half, there were already 20 alumni signatures in the book.
Alumni are also presented with Auburn Aviation Memorabilia so they can also help to recruit potential students for Auburn. The Striped Wings are also trying to gather support here in Auburn as well. They make trips to high schools and middle schools to recruit potential students.
In addition, all of Auburn’s aviation programs, including the Striped Wings, will be helping incoming freshman with move-in. They want to help students feel more comfortable being in Auburn for the first time.
“It’s been a fantastic opportunity for me,” Rogers said when asked about this year’s Oshkosh Fly-in. “Being at the show every year, it’s the biggest aviation celebration in the world and everyone here has that passion. It makes it so easy to recruit because Auburn is such a passionate place and these people are looking for a place to have that passion and use that passion to get into a career field that they can be very successful in later on.”