This Friday’s faculty feature is Dr. Gail Rouscher! Dr. Rouscher has more than 25 years of experience in the field of aviation and has been an instructor at WMU since the fall of 2008. In addition, she recently finished her PhD at WMU! She says that she will happily take any opportunity to represent Western and the CoA - from football, to the Air Race Classic, to community events, etc. We asked Dr. Rouscher to give us some insight into her background, her favorite classes to teach at WMU, and to give advice to aviation students.
Dr. Rouscher’s first jump into aviation was as a member of the U.S. Navy. She was an aircraft engine mechanic, stationed in Rota, Spain and here in Michigan at Selfridge Air National Guard Base. After separating from the Navy she went to school to get her A&P Certificate. Dr. Rouscher has been in Battle Creek for a little over 20 years and she loves the slower pace. She is currently working on a textbook for aviation learners and research in the area of military and veterans in academia.
During A&P school, Dr. Rouscher worked as a contractor for American International Airways. She worked with DC8's, L1011's mostly and performed weekend checks/inspections. She then came out to Battle Creek for Kal-Aero – now known as Duncan Aviation – which is part of the corporate world of aviation maintenance. Dr. Rouscher started in the interior shop and spent one year there before she had the opportunity to move to the structures department. From there, she became part of the avionics department as a structures mechanic - installing avionics, entertainment, and communications equipment. Dr. Rouscher was heavily involved in composite work and cross-trained for avionics. She was a department and company trainer at Duncan Aviation and trained those from all departments in structural processes. Then, she came to WMU CoA in the fall of 2008.
Dr. Rouscher has taught in all of WMU Aviation’s programs with intro courses and corresponding labs, with a main focus on the maintenance courses. Currently, there are three structures courses she teaches at the college, all of which are in different semesters, along with other maintenance courses.
Dr. Rouscher explains that she picked Western Michigan University for its premier aviation training, locally grown talent, and because she did not have to move. “Because I was a part of the community, I spent a lot of time at the airport for both work and pleasure. It was my dream to teach and my experience is mostly in aviation. It’s different every single day.”
When asked about her favorite class to teach, Dr. Rouscher names Advanced Structures and Composites. She says it is fun watching the students experience the newest aviation has to offer. Part of the lab takes them from making a casting, through the entire mold making process, and then to the end result – a cool airplane they can take with them. She says the material aspect of the class and all the different exposure makes each day something totally new.
Dr. Rouscher considers working with the students, both at the college and with extra curricular activities, to be the most rewarding part of her career. She has had the opportunity to work with and mentor students in many of the aviation RSO's and is involved with Women in Aviation and The Association for Women in Aviation Maintenance. This provides her a chance to get to know the students outside of the academic arena. “Connecting them with community for volunteer services, providing introductions for networking, working with them for a scholarship, these are all exciting and rewarding pieces.”
Then, she explains, there is the students’ graduation. “Often I am taken aback by the changes from when I met them as first year students to the culmination of their degree. Then they come back as alum and tell their stories, ask for advice, provide advice, and show how much they have grown since the early days as a freshman and look to share their new knowledge with those just beginning. Helping the students succeed, whatever it takes, is why I am here. “
The advice Dr. Rouscher gives incoming students is to follow your passion and get involved. She explains that at the CoA, instructors begin to help the students build a foundation with their knowledge and skills, but they cannot teach everything and it is important for them to continue learning. “Aviation is fluid and always changing. It should be exciting, provide a feeling of purpose and enjoyment. Networking is key for following dreams - never to early to start that, even as a freshman. Those connections are invaluable when students seek a career post-graduation.”
WMU Aviation thanks Dr. Rouscher for all the outstanding work she does at the CoA and in the community! Go Broncos!