Jim Heinzel Gets a Degree… and a Promotion

Wed, 07/01/2009 - 10:18am
By: The Citizen

Fayette County's Jim Heinzel just earned his Bachelor of Applied Science (BAS) in Technology Management with a concentration in Aviation Administration from Clayton State University. He also just moved up on the job at Delta Air Lines, to a management position in Ground Support Equipment (GSE). And, yes, these two milestones are related.

Although Heinzel is not the first student at the Clayton State - Fayette instructional site in Peachtree City to earn a degree in the Aviation Administration program (he’s actually the ninth), he is the first Delta employee in the ICAPP-funded program to graduate and be promoted as a result of his degree from Clayton State.

"In April of this year, a management position in GSE became available. I bid on the position, had an interview, and accepted the offer for the job," he explains. "One of the requirements for the job is to have at least a bachelor's degree in a technical or business field, so my education from Clayton State made it possible for me to qualify for this position."

(GSE includes all the airline equipment on the ground that supports the aircraft and flying operation, e.g.; baggage tugs, aircraft tugs, loaders, passenger loading bridges, electrical power for the aircraft, baggage conveyor systems, etc.)

Retired ASA President Bryan LaBrecque developed the Airline Administration course for Clayton State – Fayette, beginning with the spring 2008 semester. The program is designed for individuals who already hold an associate’s degree – an AA, AS, AAS or AAT -- or who have completed the core curriculum. Depending on the student’s prior credits, they can enter either the Bachelor of Science in Integrative Studies or the Bachelor of Applied Science in Administration or Technology Management.

Originally a native of Peoria, Il., Heinzel moved to Georgia with his family when he began high school, graduating from Fayette County High School. In 1988 he first went to work with Delta as a GSE mechanic. Within two months of starting with Delta, he began the Electronics Technology AAS degree program at Clayton State. Then, in 1990, he was able to get a position in the GSE electronics repair shop at Delta.

“My studies in electronics at Clayton State enabled me get that job because it required some formal electronics education,” he recalls. “I completed my AAS in 1992, and remained in the GSE electronics shop until 1998. In 1998 I was promoted to the position of lead mechanic in the GSE component shops.”

In 2000, Heinzel started the BAS in Technology Management.

“Due to varying schedule assignments at work and family commitments, I stopped taking classes in 2005,” he says. “Finally, in 2007 I decided I needed a competitive advantage if I was going to be able to advance, or even survive in my job at Delta. So I determined to finish my degree at Clayton State, and began taking classes at Clayton State – Fayette in the spring of 2008.”

Heinzel’s new position at Delta involves the management of the GSE Engineering group, Technical Analyst group, GSE Training group, GSE Technical Publications group, and ULD (aircraft luggage containers and cargo pallets) group.

“I was thrilled and excited about the challenges of the position. I believe that leading these groups to work together efficiently will be a very rewarding and satisfying experience,” he says. “My prior experience working in GSE certainly helped secure the promotion, and will further help me with my new duties. My experience and education in electronics will particularly help me with this job since so much of our airline equipment is electronically operated these days.

“In addition to my technical education at Clayton State, the management specific and general core education is valuable for performing the duties of the position. Management specific courses provide the knowledge and skills to manage the particulars of the business, especially as it applies to the airline industry. Courses such as philosophy and psychology provide the knowledge and skills to better understand people, which is valuable for personnel management. Of course the English and Literature classes play a vital part in being able to communicate in all aspects of the job.”

A unit of the University System of Georgia, Clayton State University is an outstanding comprehensive metropolitan university located 15 miles southeast of downtown Atlanta.

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