Parks College Marks International Milestone in Aviation

May 17, 2013
Aviation Science, Parks College News

Just as in 1929 when Parks Air College was awarded Certificate No. 1, making it the first federally certificated pilot training school in the nation, Saint Louis University’s Parks College of Engineering, Aviation and Technology continues today to lead the way in aviation. On Saturday, May 18, Saint Louis University will confer the first Ph.D. in Aviation in the world to Damon Lercel. This historic international milestone also marks the first Ph.D. completed at Parks College.

Theodosios Alexander (a.k.a. Theodosios Korakianitis), Sc.D., Dean of Parks College said, “This success is a momentous and historic milestone for aviation, Parks College and Saint Louis University.” He added, “Parks College is dedicated to excellence in research-led education via building collaborative and inter-disciplinary research capabilities. The doctoral programs in aviation and engineering are part of the foundation for the national and international recognition of Parks College as a leading powerhouse for cutting-edge, industry-relevant and science-driven research.”

first-aviation-phdLeft to right: Damon Lercel, Ph.D. & Theodosios Alexander, Sc.D.

Manoj Patankar, Ph.D., the Executive Director of Parks College’s Center for Aviation Safety Research, funded and supported Lercel’s research through his grant, and calls this success “a dream come true.” Parks College has been working on the concept of a Ph.D. degree in aviation for more than 10 years, recognizing the need for such a degree as well as the academic rigor and research funding required in order to achieve this milestone in aviation.

Lercel, who also serves as the Program Director of Parks College’s Center for Aviation Safety Research, is thrilled to be the first to receive a Ph.D. in aviation. “The program offered not only an in-depth immersion in research, but also opportunities to interact with both the domestic and international aviation industries,” Lercel said. He continued, “It’s a victory for the advancement of aviation.”

Lercel’s doctoral research has generated a body of new information through interviews, literature reviews, surveys and interactive workshops. This body of information formed a discourse, which enabled him to suggest a unique approach to breaking the current gridlock in implementing Safety Management Systems (SMS) programs across domestic repair stations. This approach to shifting the dialogue from position-based detailed arguments to interest-based collaborative development offers not only a promising solution to the specific challenge of SMS implementation, but paves the way for many similar safety challenges in aviation and beyond.

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About Saint Louis University

Saint Louis University is a Catholic, Jesuit institution that values academic excellence, life-changing research, compassionate health care, and a strong commitment to faith and service.

Founded in 1818, the University fosters the intellectual and character development of nearly 14,000 students on two campuses in St. Louis, Missouri and Madrid, Spain. Building on a legacy of nearly 200 years, Saint Louis University continues to move forward with an unwavering commitment to a higher purpose, a greater good.

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