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Erik Speakman, senior air traffic control major, explains the purpose of the GPU.

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United Airlines made a significant donation on Oct. 12 by providing the aviation department with a ground power unit to enhance the student learning experience.


After preserving a long-time relationship with Lewis, dating back to 1999 when United first donated a Boeing 737 to the university, the airline refurbished a soon-to-be relinquished ground power unit for donation. Many Lewis aviation students and alumni were in attendance on the day the donation took place.


“Lewis has long been a school that sends us qualified candidates,” said United Airlines tactical planner, Craig Linkenhoker, in a news release from the university. “It benefits us in the long run when Lewis students have hands-on experience with the same equipment our technicians use every day.”


A ground power unit, or GPU, is a large portable cart that assists in delivering electrical power to commercial aircrafts. It allows for the ability to practice safe maintenance and service to aircrafts. Department Co-Chair of Aviation and Transportation Studies Director Eric Jones said, “Aviation students will specifically be able to work with real world ground support equipment that they will utilize within the airline industry.”


This piece of delicate equipment not only benefits aviation students, but the entire community as well. The GPU will allow Lewis to host other airlines such as Delta, Southwest and Envoy aircrafts that visit campus.


“We look at this donation as another example of our outstanding relationship with our airline employers,” said Jones. “It also is emblematic that they respect Lewis graduates enough to enhance student learning experiences with such generous donations.”


By maintaining these relationships with popular airlines the university is helping secure many job opportunities for Lewis graduates. United Airlines attends career fairs each year at Lewis in search of potential candidates to add to their team.


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