Faculty Spotlight: Jon Loffi
Monday, October 1, 2018
Meet Dr. Jon Loffi, associate professor in aviation and space for the College of Education and Human Sciences. Loffi earned both his master's in aviation and space and his doctorate in applied educational studies with an aviation emphases from OSU. His hometown is Oklahoma City.
You have a unique professional background; some may even say your experiences mirror those of what we see on shows like CSI and Law and Order. Tell us more about your career path.
Primarily, I’ve been in law enforcement. I started as a cadet for the Oklahoma City Police Department (OCPD) when I was 19 and worked my way up from there. Later, I became a crime scene investigator and a latent fingerprint identification expert. I was privileged enough to attend the FBI Academy twice. This was a significant accomplishment, seeing as the FBI only picks one cop from each state twice a year to attend the academy.
I gained so much experience during my 26 years with the OCPD. I worked as an airport officer and learned how to run a semi-major league airport. I was a shift lieutenant for the patrol division, detective for both the burglary unit and the sex crime unit, and I eventually became the commander of the internal affairs unit.
You are now a full-time professor at OSU. How did you transition from law enforcement to higher education?
Quickly after I retired from the OCPD, I started looking for something else to do. In 1999, I was hired by the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigations (OSBI) as special agent in the Payne County area. I, along with six other guys, started a new intelligence agency. One of my first assignments was to increase the field offices, and I did it. The first office was established on campus at the OSU Police Department. During that time, I was finishing my master’s at OSU. Obtaining a doctoral degree really appealed to me, so I went for it. As I neared the end of my program, an assistant professor job popped up on my radar. My advisor nonchalantly asked if I would ever consider being a professor at OSU. I was shocked and surprised by the question; I never thought teaching was in my cards, but apparently it was. After 13 years with the OSBI, I started as an assistant professor in the aviation and space program. Here I am six years later, and I love it!
What do you love most about teaching?
Definitely the involvement with my students. By teaching young adults what the world is really like, I hope to make a difference in their lives and the future of our world. I teach very pragmatically, meaning I use my values to teach practically about real-life situations, not scenarios. I love being able to use my experience in law enforcement to aid my teaching. When preparing my students for the future, I try to explain that it isn’t about being smart, they are smart; it’s about endurance and showing they are willing to go the extra mile.
What are your research interests?
I have published around 14 research articles with topics ranging from small unmanned aerial systems/drones to carrying weapons on campus. My main focus is homeland security and defense. I do quite a bit of research with the mechanical aerospace engineers. With the U.S. Department of Defense clearances we are able to see, read and do what most people are prohibited from. I continue to research systems design in innovation and sustainability in aviation security as well as stakeholders and user-driven methodology in aviation security from a global perspective.
You also serve as the faculty advisor for the Flying Aggies. What does that entail?
The Flying Aggies is a group of students interested in aviation or professional piloting. I believe it’s the second-oldest active club on campus. Becoming the advisor was another “open door” moment. One of my students came to me and asked if I would be their advisor. Not knowing anything about it, I asked friends and co-workers for their opinions and decided I would give it a try for a year. So I did, and I have been there ever since. The students are active, strong in what they believe and overall really good kids. They do a lot of community service work, they talk to little kids, and they do tours at Will Rogers Airport. One really cool perk these students have is going to Dallas to use 737 and 777 flight simulators that major airlines use for pilot training. Another cool thing they do is go to an annual aviation air show in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. They raise funds throughout the year and have to earn their spot to go for a week of airshow stuff. It’s a real buck list thing for them to experience.
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