Aviation Alumnus is First in Panama to Earn Prestigious Certification

A young aviation professional and proud Florida Tech graduate has earned a prestigious certification that makes him unique in his native Panama. What inspired Julio Coronado to seek this achievement? His former College of Aeronautics professor, William Rankin.

In the spring, Coronado ’23 was informed that he had earned his Certified Member status from the American Association of Airport Executives (AAAE). He is the only person in Panama to have this designation, which “signifies that you have a diverse knowledge of the primary functions of how an airport operates and can provide the opportunity to progress up the ranks in a close-knit community,” according to AAAE.

“I’m proud to say I am the only Panamanian to have it and I am one of only seven within Latin America,” Coronado said recently.

“I am also proud,” Coronado said in an email earlier this year to Rankin, “that you inspired me to achieve the Certified Member of the AAAE certification.”

Coronado met Rankin, now an adjunct professor, in 2016 in Rankin’s class on airport management. The professor knew the topic well: He was (and remains) an Accredited Airport Executive (AAE) – the highest level of certification – and emeritus member of AAAE with 30 years as an airport director prior to entering academia. That expertise came through in the classroom.

“I was amazed by his professional prowess and his experience in airport management,” Coronado said. “He was very skillful in explaining how theory could translate into actual challenges and cases within the airport environment.”

Boasting his Florida Tech degree and newly earned CM status, Coronado recently started working as a quality assurance auditor at DHL Aero Expreso, S.A. at the Cargo Terminal of Tocumen International Airport in Panama City. He is assigned to perform external and internal audits for the organization to pursue and ensure compliance with the company and international industry standards. His time at Florida Tech and interactions with Rankin and other faculty members were critical to the success he is now enjoying.

“As a student and also student pilot, the amount of experience offered by the renowned professors I met has been of utter importance in my professional formation,” he said, adding that Florida Tech’s use of hands-on education and real-world training thrust him past graduates from elsewhere.

“I have witnessed that when the time comes to transition into a professional environment, many students from many other colleges have a hard time adapting, but for Florida Tech students, it is seamless,” he said. “I believe that the key to this is thanks to one of the most valuable assets of Florida Tech: guiding us to be top professionals from day one, with actual trends, the correct ‘know-how’s’ and a positive educational environment.”

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