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    Welcome to the Ambassablog! We're the front-line employee bloggers of the San Diego County Regional Airport Authority and participants in the Airport Authority's Goodwill Ambassador Program.

    Here you'll find our continually updated posts about life at historic San Diego International Airport (Lindbergh Field).

    Take a look around, and Email us if there's something you'd like to see added to the Ambassablog or covered in future posts.
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    For questions or information about this blog and other social media tools used by San Diego International Airport, contact:
    Steven Shultz, M.S.
    Deputy Director, Public & Community Relations /
    San Diego County Regional Airport Authority: sshultz@san.org

Mastering the Art of Legos: A Lesson on Airport Strategy

Summer 2012 Airport Authority interns: navigating their way to bright futures.  Left aisle (front to back): Philip Yttermalm, Daniel Schoenberg, Shan Sebastian, and Stephanie Nowinski. Right aisle (front to back): Kyle Teague, Lauren Wakham, Carolina Mohrlock, and Nicole Frost. See what departments they’re working in below.

Special Guest Post by Carolina, Public Relations Intern

When was the last time you were able to plunge both arms into a bucket of Legos?

For many of us, it’s far more likely that we step on the lone Lego that resisted playtime cleanup—coincidentally, the sharpest piece known to Legoland. So it may have been a while since we’ve trudged through half-dismantled spaceships strewn into bins for the perfect piece to top off our control tower.

But the Airport Authority’s 2012 Summer Interns did just that during orientation last month. (By the way, you can check out all the interns — and information about the Airport Authority’s internship program — on a special new Facebook page we created: https://www.facebook.com/SDCRAAInternships).

After spending a morning learning about the Airport Authority’s vision, mission, strategies and goals, and returning from the Terminals to Tarmac tour led by Ambassablogger Ryan of the AIrport Planning Department, we were divided into teams and charged with creating Lego sculptures depicting one or more strategies.

Ready, set, sculpt!

Team Environmental and Finance: Striking a Balance

Lauren from Environmental paired up with Finance’s Philip to create a piece that incorporated both the Customer and Operational strategies.

“We were trying to highlight the sometimes-conflicting relationship between our strategies here at the airport, as well as how they all come to together to achieve our mission,” said Lauren.

The trees and bay on their Lego sculpture represent the environment, with houses for the community. There is also a nod to public safety with a security checkpoint, a parking garage representing development, and ground service equipment, baggage and an airplane for operations. Their goal was to show how the strategies are all linked and dependent upon each other to achieve the Airport Authority’s mission:

We will plan for and provide air transportation services to the region with safe, effective facilities that exceed customer expectations. We are committed to operating San Diego’s air transportation gateways in a manner that promotes the region’s prosperity and protects its quality of life.

Team Marketing and Planning: The Greener, the Better

Marketing intern Nicole and Daniel from Planning focused on the Sustainability, Customer and Community strategies, using their fair share of green Legos to communicate how these strategies support The Green Build.

“We added a living roof to the building in order to catch rain water and recycle it. We also included an electric car to help with emissions from all the vehicles on the tarmac. The idea was to make the airport as environmentally friendly and cost-effective as possible,” said Nicole.

Daniel added, “The greener SAN can be, the better the environment for the surrounding community can be.”

Team Marketing and IT: Be Kind to Your Neighbors

Marketing intern Stephanie and IT’s Shan took a look at the Community strategy.

“The main concept of our piece was to display the physical proximity of the airport to its community stakeholders, in order to emphasize the variety of resulting issues for which the Airport Authority takes responsive action,” explained Stephanie.

The model shows the nearby communities of Old Town, Banker’s Hill and Downtown, as well as the San Diego harbor. The pair hoped to emphasize the importance of remaining responsive to the community, and gave examples of ways in which the Airport Authority is putting this strategy into action, such as through its Quieter Home Program and the flight curfew.

Team PR and HR: “Lego Viral!”

HR’s Kyle and I, from Public Relations, tied the Customer and Community strategies into our Lego sculpture.

“Social media serves as a key vehicle in the distribution of information to the public and employees,” said Kyle. We employed the Facebook logo as a symbol of being social, and as for us—we’re wired in.

The Ambassablog, Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Flickr and now Pinterest— these are great examples of how the Airport Authority is facilitating two-way communication with our publics, and it all comes back to our strategies.

Melissa from the Airport Authority’s Art Program judged the Lego contest, naming Shan and Stephanie of Team Marketing and IT the big winners for their Community strategy sculpture.

The activity was a blast—and a blast from the past—for the interns. It allowed us to apply the Airport Authority’s strategies in creative and memorable ways.

Remember, it’s never too late to dig into a bucket of Legos—it’s, er, strategic!

 

The Day a Dream Came True at SDIA

By Guest Ambassablogger Cynthia of the Airport Authority’s Marketing & Communications Division 

You may have heard the news or been one of the eager watchers here at the airport on March 12 when the new Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner flew into town. Boeing brought the aircraft in for a personal visit with those folks who helped build her. If you were not one of those special few, you will have a chance to see the Dreamliner beginning in December, when Japan Airlines starts nonstop flights between San Diego and Tokyo, Japan. Initial service will be four times a week, with daily service scheduled to begin in March 2013.

I watched the 787’s approach from the airports’ Operations Duty Managers Office. Her approach reminded me of watching a graceful ballerina during her final movements of a performance. The pilot touched down with a gentle landing and was rewarded with a round of applause — which I’m sure he was oblivious to. It was truly a treat to watch this aircraft maneuver across the runway and park in her overnight spot at Landmark Aviation.

The 787’s got big windows!

Here are a few specs on the new Dreamliner so you can impress your friends or be prepared for your next round of trivia:

  • The 787-8 will use 20% less fuel than the Boeing 767 it is designed to replace.
  • It has a base passenger configuration of 224 seats, but airlines are configuring the aircraft with as few as 186 seats and as many as 240 seats, depending on the type of service they are providing.
  • Its range is from 5,500 – 7,200 nautical miles, depending on the amount of passengers and cargo carried.
  • It is 186 feet long and 56 feet high with a wingspan of 197’3” and has a cruise speed of Mach 0.85.
  • The 787-8 has a larger sister that will be available in 2015. She has similar fuel economy, is 20 feet longer, seats 259 passengers in a standard configuration and can carry a greater payload over the same distances as the 787-8.

If you’re like me and always wanted to visit Asia, a nonstop flight to Tokyo’s Narita Airport, with its hub operations connecting to many Asian destinations, could be the first step in getting there. It’s time to start saving for the trip. Now where did I put that piggy bank?

KIPP students visit SDIA and its Quieter Home Program

At right, Quieter Home Program Inspector Jack explains to KIPP students how the program is making homes quieter at the Point Loma Tennis Club condos.

Recently, students from the San Diego charter KIPP: Adelante Preparatory Academy school toured San Diego International Airport and its Quieter Home Program (QHP). Six middle school ‘KIPPsters’ received quite a treat: a Terminals to Tarmac tour lead by Ambassablogger Ryan of the airport’s Strategic Planning Department and Sandra of Airport Planning. After lunch (which included a teambuilding activity of constructing a new airport out of Legos), they met yours truly (I’m the airport’s QHP Coordinator) for a tour of the new QHP showroom and a few homes in construction.

Students from this charter middle school have had the opportunity to visit the airport for the last few years as a result of Ryan’s community involvement with San Diego LEAD; KIPP Adelante was his community project. KIPP Adelante’s slogan is: Work Hard. Be Nice. Dream Big.

KIPPsters learning about the airport.

Students were very interested in the QHP and that it was free to eligible homeowners in defined areas near the airport. The showroom tour included an explanation of the QHP’s acoustic reduction goals, lead by Ambassablogger Sjohnna, who is the QHP Manager.

KIPPsters got to view the products, and experience the acoustic kiosk, giving them a sound understanding of a five-decibel reduction, the goal for any residence. They then boarded a bus — along with Craig, the QHP Construction Manager, and me to tour Point Loma Tennis Club condominium complex, one of the current QHP projects.

Jack and Brandon, Construction Inspectors for QHP, walked the students through the entire construction process. KIPPsters visited homes the contractor opened that day, including one in mid-construction, and one in its final day of construction. Jack and Brandon explained how new acoustic windows are retrofitted and how electrical panels are upgraded for new furnaces and air conditioning. Jack was impressed with the KIPPsters, calling them “attentive, inquisitive and very polite.” Reflect back to the academy’s slogan.

KIPP students enjoying a guided tour of the airport.

KIPPsters then met Whitney, the QHP Homeowner Liaison for the Point Loma Tennis Club. Whitney and I talked about our positions and how continuous communication and great customer service are vital with homeowners throughout the Quieter Home Program process.

On the bus ride back to the Airport, the students talked about the tour; they could not believe the amount of construction that occurs in the 15 days allotted for a project. One student felt it should take longer, perhaps even a year! Ryan, Sandra, Craig and I then quizzed the students about what they had learned that day; the KIPPsters enthusiastically had some great answers.

Freda, the Director of Development at KIPP, thanked the airport staff and the Quieter Home Program for “opening our students’ eyes and feeding their curiosity.”

It was a great day for all!

Work Hard. Be Nice. Dream Big.

Guest Blogger:

Catherine, Program Coordinator for the Quieter Home Program

Birthstones, gemstones, and more …

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Special Guest Post by Cynthia in the Marketing & Communications Division

Do you know what your birthstone is? I was born in January, so mine is garnet. I’ve always loved the warmth of the red color. But my favorite color is green, and I have to admit that I have, at times, been jealous of those folks whose birthstones are emeralds. When I recently visited the Gemological Institute of America’s (GIA) exhibit, GIA Celebrates Birthstones, located post-security in Terminal 2 at San Diego International Airport, I found out that I don’t have to be jealous anymore.

It turns out that garnet comes in multiple variations. Although red is the most commonly known color, there is a green variation as well.

GIA is the world’s foremost authority on diamonds, colored stones and pearls. This exhibit showcases raw and finely crafted gems and jewelry from the GIA collection. You’ll be guided through a variety of interesting facts and folklore related to each month’s birthstone, as well as an introduction to the tools used to grade stones in this fascinating field.

Stop by soon and see if you recognize what your birthstone looks like before undergoing polishing. The exhibit runs through February 2012.

And if you’re interested in finding out more about GIA and its collections but are not traveling through the airport, the GIA world headquarters is located in Carlsbad, California (about 45 minutes north of downtown). They give public tours of their museum and exhibits with advance reservations. You can learn more by visiting:  www.gia.edu.

A letter from Japan

We all have large natural events take over our lives at times. San Diego residents are not immune. Witness the Cedar Fire of 2003 that took several lives and burned hundreds of local homes. Then again the Witch Creek Fire of 2007, in which more homes and people perished. Here at the Airport Authority, employees responded to the fires by providing extra assistance to passengers stranded at the airport while smoke filled the skies and many areas of the county were inaccessible. More recently, we were rattled during Easter dinner in 2010 by the 7.2 earthquake centered in Mexicali.

Even the current disaster in Japan has touched our shores, in the form of a tsunami advisory, high surf and very low levels of radiation from the damaged Japanese nuclear reactors. While we have locally been spared the extreme devastation now afflicting Japan, we all have a common understanding of the overwhelming force of such events.

Here is a small email from Japan that I became aware of recently. It was written by an American English teacher living in Japan and appeared in Ode magazine. Perhaps it can help remind us that, everywhere, there is a collective and inspiring human response to natural disaster:

Hello my lovely family and friends,

Things here in Sendai have been rather surreal. But I am very blessed to have wonderful friends who are helping me a lot. Since my shack is even more worthy of that name, I am now staying at a friend’s home. We share supplies like water, food, and a kerosene heater. We sleep lined up in one room, eat by candlelight, share stories. It is warm, friendly, and beautiful.

During the day we help each other clean up the mess in our homes. People sit in their cars, looking at news on their navigation screens, or line up to get drinking water when a source is open. If someone has water running in their home, they put out a sign so people can come to fill up their jugs and buckets.

It’s utterly amazing that, where I am, there has been no looting, no pushing in lines. People leave their front door open, as it is safer when an earthquake strikes. People keep saying, “Oh, this is how it used to be in the old days when everyone helped one another.”

Quakes keep coming. Last night they struck about every 15 minutes. Sirens are constant and helicopters pass overhead often.

We got water for a few hours in our homes last night, and now it is for half a day. Electricity came on this afternoon. Gas has not yet come on. But all of this is by area. Some people have these things, others do not. No one has washed for several days. We feel grubby, but there are so many more important concerns than that for us now. I love this peeling away of non-essentials. Living fully on the level of instinct, of intuition, of caring, of what is needed for survival, not just of me, but of the entire group.

There are strange parallel universes happening. Houses a mess in some places, yet then a house with futons or laundry out drying in the sun. People lining up for water and food, and yet a few people out walking their dogs. All happening at the same time.

Other unexpected touches of beauty are, first, the silence at night. No cars. No one out on the streets. And the heavens at night are scattered with stars. I usually can see about two, but now the whole sky is filled. The mountains of Sendai are solid, and with the crisp air we can see them silhouetted against the sky magnificently.

And the Japanese themselves are so wonderful. I come back to my shack to check on it each day, now to send this e-mail since the electricity is on, and I find food and water left in my entranceway. I have no idea from whom, but it is there. Old men in green hats go from door to door, checking to see if everyone is OK. People talk to complete strangers, asking if they need help. I see no signs of fear. Resignation, yes, but fear or panic, no.

They tell us we can expect aftershocks, and even other major quakes, for another month or more. And we are getting constant tremors, rolls, shaking, rumbling. I am blessed in that I live in a part of Sendai that is a bit elevated, a bit more solid than other parts. So, so far this area is better off than others. Last night my friend’s husband came in from the country, bringing food and water. Blessed again.

Somehow at this time I realize from direct experience that there is indeed an enormous cosmic evolutionary step that is occurring all over the world right at this moment. And somehow, as I experience the events happening now in Japan, I can feel my heart opening very wide. My brother asked me if I felt so small because of all that is happening. I don’t. Rather, I feel as part of something happening that is much larger than myself. This wave of birthing (worldwide) is hard, and yet magnificent.

Thank you again for your care and love of me.

With love in return, to you all.

Guest Post: Do Not Fear – SANMasters Is Here!

by Sharon, Marketing Department


Delivering a public speech is not easy. In fact, some studies show that 

Amiel delivering his big speech.

three out of every four individuals suffer from speech anxiety (or fear of talking in front of a crowd). During San Diego International Airport’s Employee Appreciation Event this year, under cheers and loud applause, Amiel, the newly awarded President’s Award of Excellence (Employee of the Year) recipient and SANMasters member, stood before a large crowd to deliver his acceptance speech.

The ability to have the courage to stand and deliver a well-organized speech is extremely important to airport employees. Many employees might stay away from taking on a task, leadership position, or asking a critical question because they don’t want to speak out in front of a crowd or deliver a speech.

In 2008, the airport brought in Toastmasters International, an organization dedicated to help people become more confident public speakers. A chartered chapter of the club was formed at the airport, called SANMasters. SANMasters is part of Toast Masters District 5.

Club members attend meetings with the common goals of growing in their ability to deliver quality speeches and encouraging other members to do the same.

From left, Scott, Amiel, Murray & Elsie of the Airport Authority's Landside Operations Department celebrate Amiel being named Airport Authority Employee of the Year for 2010 at the Employee Appreciation Event.

Each meeting has a theme and features two speeches, as well as “Table Topics” – that’s when a group of questions related to the meeting’s theme are asked, and different club members are then encouraged to spontaneously answer. This teaches members to think on their feet, often producing a variety of answers, some of which are pretty funny.

Meetings also includes rotating leadership roles, which allows each member to take on a different responsibility at each meeting. New members start with the smaller roles and then progress to eventually take on the role of Toast Master, the meeting’s Master of Ceremonies. Don’t worry though if this seems scary, as the progression usually takes a while and you’re never forced into a role until you feel ready – you’re only encouraged.

Airport Authority President/CEO Thella Bowens recognizes Amiel as the Airport Authority's Employee of the Year for 2010.

SANMasters is very proud to have this year’s President’s Award of Excellence recipient, Amiel, as a member. I recently spoke with him about his participation in SANMasters. Amiel became a member of of the club because he wanted to become a more effective oral communicator. Since joining in January 2010, he feels he has grown in his confidence when talking in front of large groups.

A SANMasters meeting in session.

“What I like most about SANMasters is the way you become part of a team, and that each member encourages other members to improve and succeed,” said Amiel, who works in the Airport Authority’s Landside Operations Department. When asked what he felt airport employees would gain by  joining SANMasters, Amiel said “they’d develop and improve their speaking skills, for every occasion, and being a member also helps you become a better listener.”

This special guest post was submitted by Sharon in the Marketing Department (above).

SANMasters is open to all employees and also non-employee San Diego County residents. The group meets every other Thursday during lunch, from Noon – 1 pm. If you’re interested in learning more about the club, please join us at our next meeting. Or, for more info or to attend a meeting as a welcomed guest, please contact me, SANMasters Vice President of Public Relations, at 619-400-2873.

We look forward to hearing from you soon!

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