Kansas State Polytechnic's Alexander uses sabbatical to improve aviation safety standards in Belize
Friday, Oct. 16, 2015
SALINA — With aviation safety standards in Belize trailing behind many other countries across the globe, a professor at the Kansas State University Polytechnic Campus devoted her yearlong sabbatical to assisting the country in advancing its aviation safety process.
Raylene Alexander will host a public presentation about her time in Belize at 3:30 p.m. Friday, Oct. 23, in the College Center conference room on the Kansas State Polytechnic Campus.
Alexander, a member of the Kansas State Polytechnic aviation department since 2006, spent one year working for the Belize Department of Civil Aviation, which is similar to the Federal Aviation Administration in the U.S. She first heard about the possibility of the job from a former student who had spent time in the country and discovered its aviation industry was in desperate need of technically trained people.
Alexander arrived in Belize in July 2014 and was assigned with improving the Belize Department of Civil Aviation's state safety program. The program is governed by the International Civil Aviation Organization, which develops global international standards and recommended practices for aviation. Belize was having difficulty getting its state safety program established and looking for assistance.
"We take for granted in the United States the laws and regulations the FAA enforces and the data they collect," Alexander said. "But in Belize, they don't have a lot of data, which is the backbone for analyzing safety and mitigating it before accidents and incidents can happen."
While at the Belize Department of Civil Aviation, Alexander investigated all international aviation laws and regulations; she rewrote safety manuals and procedures; and she upgraded the organization's website, all in an effort to progress Belize towards meeting the International Civil Aviation Organization's state safety standards.
Since returning to Kansas in July 2015, Alexander has used her experiences in the classroom and for two research papers. In the aviation safety management class she teaches, Alexander has tasked her students with creating a hazard review for the expansion of the Belize City Municipal Airport — something she also put together during her sabbatical — and their project will be compared with her analysis with the Belize industry. Alexander believes incorporating her international experience into the curriculum is essential because she wants to prepare her students for cosmopolitan careers.
"Our campus continues to attract international students to the aviation program, and it's important that all of our students are prepared to work across the globe, so we must include more than just the FAA's standards and requirements," Alexander said.
In her Oct. 23 presentation, Alexander will share her experiences working for the Belize Department of Aviation and talk about what living in Belize is like, touching on housing, shopping, medical care, safety, money exchange rates, bringing pets and sightseeing spots.
Before teaching safety, avionics and aviation maintenance at Kansas State Polytechnic, Alexander was a flight line avionics technician with United Airlines for 14 years. She also spent four years in the U.S. Marine Corps as an avionics technician.
For more information on Alexander's sabbatical or her community presentation, contact her at 785-826-2940 or firstname.lastname@example.org.