Hogeschool van Amsterdam

Aviation Academy

Darrin de Meza as NCAA student athlete @ Carson-Newman Universit

Posted at: 24 Sep 2021 | Faculty of Technology

Last spring, Darrin graduated from the Flight Operations Engineer track. After that, Darrin moved to Jefferson city to become a NCAA student athlete, playing soccer and studying a master in Business Administration at the Carson-Newman University in Tennessee, United States. He will tell us something about his experiences after graduation and his outlook on the future.

What courses and internships have you completed during your bachelor?

I did my third year internship at the Flight Operations Engineering department of the Dutch airline TUI. My research focused on weight and balance analysis for on-board catering and the development of an optimized tool to perform these calculations. After that, I followed the minor Data Science to improve my data analysis and programming skills. Over the summer prior to my fourth year, I was part of the Jetsupport Student Management Team, which was a great experience. After specializing in the Flight Operations Engineering track, I conducted my thesis research at a German company called Elemental. Elemental develops hybrid airships with vertical takeoff and landing capabilities. I got the opportunity to develop the flight performance/energy consumption algorithm for their first prototype. At the end of a very educational and enjoyable period at Elemental, I successfully defended my thesis and was ready to take on my next challenge!

What are you currently studying for?

I am currently studying a master in Business Administration, which is of course not as technical as my bachelor in Aviation. However, aviation is still very much a business world. And as I’m interested in the combination between the technical and operational/business aspects, this study is a good way to broaden my knowledge.

Why have you chosen for this study?

Even though I’m doing a masters here, my main reason for going to this university is because of the combination with sports. In the United States, almost all universities have an athletic program for many different sports. These programs are very professional with better facilities than most clubs in the Netherlands. I always played football (or soccer as the Americans call it) on a competitive level besides my study. In the Netherlands, you will have to choose between your sports and your study because doing both at a serious level is very difficult. Through an agency called KingsTalent I got the chance to talk with different coaches from the United States that could offer me a scholarship if I would play soccer for their university. Eventually, I decided to play for Carson-Newman University in Jefferson City and chose to study the MBA.

It was quite a big step to go to the other side of the world but this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that must be grasped fully. I’m already so glad that I took this chance to meet new people, see other cultures and gain experiences, both from an athletic and social perspective.

What are your daily operations?

During the fall semester I have a busy soccer schedule with about two games per week, these can also be away games in a different state where we have to drive for maybe four hours. On the days that we have no game, we have at least one practice on the field and on some days two. Besides that, we have two fixed gym sessions per week where we do strength training and some stretching. However, we usually do two-three extra gym sessions throughout the week and sometimes extra sessions on the field. With so many training sessions, it’s great to have the good facilities and resources available for the athletes.

The study load of my masters fits very well with my sports schedule. I have one or two classes per week in the evening and the rest of the week I have the time to do my homework and assignments. This gives me time to focus on my sports and to do some activities with the new people I met here. Towards the end of the year I am planning to make some trips through the country to see even more new places.

Where do you see yourself 5 years from now?

I don’t have a clear view on where I want/expect to be in five years, five years ago I also didn’t expect to be on this adventure right now. Maybe I will get the chance to continue my soccer or business career here in the United States or maybe I will have great opportunities back in the Netherlands after my time in the United States. One thing I know for sure is that this won’t be my last foreign adventure, I already realized that there is still so much to see and to experience and that this is the time to do that.

What advice do you have for future graduates?

I would like to tell future graduates to step out of your comfort zone sometimes. If you are in doubt to go abroad or to go on another challenging adventure, I would say do it, because it may take you to the experience of your life! This is the time to create memories and you don’t want to have regrets in a few years for not going on an exciting adventure. I haven’t been here for long yet but I already know for sure that this will be an unforgettable time!

Are you still connected with the Aviation Academy?

I’m still in contact with friends that are still studying Aviation and I will keep following the Aviation Academy social media accounts to see all developments. I really enjoyed my time at the Aviation Academy and value the things I learned!