This is the fourth in a series of Russ College faculty profiles, in celebration of the Russ College's 75th anniversary (1935-2010.)
It was a friend who inspired Bryan Branham to go into teaching, when that friend commented on Branham’s natural ability to see a teaching opportunity and create a learning experience from almost any situation.
Branham -- a school-trained test pilot in both helicopters and airplanes with more than 6500 flight hours says he incorporates real-life situations into his teaching philosophy, often drawing from his own experiences.
“I think we can learn from literally all we are exposed to in life,” Branham says. “The way we make decisions can be directly correlated to an experience we had at some point in our lives -- academic, work or personal.”
Branham himself draws from a wealth of experiences. Before becoming chief instructor and assistant professor overseeing the Department of Aviation’s commercial training program at Ohio University, Branham was chief pilot supporting the Avionics Engineering Center. This included risk management, flight profile development, aircraft cost analysis and customer liaison for flight mission and pilot support.
He also served eight years in the Air Force, including five years working in military research and development for tactical communications systems at Fort Huachuca, Arizona. He was recognized with two air medals for combat MEDEVAC operations during the 1991 Gulf War and other decorations for support in Bosnia, Kosovo and other European operations.
Still, Branham says he continues to learn about the world of aviation -- through his research.
“Because my background includes both military and airport management, I have the luxury of looking at various aspects of aviation, from flight operations to business and economics perspectives,” he says.
While Branham has a decade’s worth of research experience developing cutting-edge navigational systems as part of projects for the Federal Aviation Administration and other research sponsors, his most recent work is in the business arena, with the goal of helping young aviators become more well rounded.
Branham advises the Russ College’s student chapter of the American Association of Airport Executives and also works with the National Business Aviation Association’s (NBBA) professional development program. Participants in NBBA’s seminars and his students can take a business in aviation course he developed, to receive credit toward becoming a Certified Aviation Manager.
“Many students will become managers at some level in their career, so this way, they get valuable insight at a managerial level – from fuel sales to aviation transportation,” Branham explains.
“If we can expose students to theory combined with experience, the learning environment has more credibility. This keeps the learning curve manageable because we give students examples based not just on case studies but on our own experiences,” Branham says.