Aviation Safety Management Scholarship

Northwest Data Solutions is pleased to announce the Aviation Safety Management Scholarship from SMS-Pro. In 2006 the International Civil Aviation Authority (ICAO) mandated that each country require their aviation service providers to adopt a formal safety management system. Since that time, we at NWDS have made it our mission to be at the forefront of aviation safety software, philosophy, and success.

We believe in driving safety by providing superior, easily accessible safety tools and knowledge to all areas of the aviation industry. Modern aviation SMS programs have dramatically increased industry safety at every level: in airports, with maintenance, on the runway, during flights, and in managerial oversight. Aviation safety is not created by one, or even a handful of people, but by every member of an aviation organization.

Chris Howell, CEO, and the rest of his team are proud to provide this scholarship opportunity in order to help young leaders drive the aviation safety future.



While not mandatory, applicants are encouraged to be currently enrolled in an aviation program at a

  • university,
  • college, or
  • training program.

While the scholarship writing topics focus on aviation safety, applicants can be enrolled in any branch of an aviation denomination, such as

  • pilot,
  • aviation maintenance,
  • air traffic control,
  • safety manager, etc.

Applicants who have won the Scholarship ARE still eligible in future scholarship periods.

Students wishing to attend safety management courses at the following training schools are also encouraged to apply:

How to Apply

  1. Applicants must fill out the application form.
  2. Applicants must choose 3 of the 8 topics from below, write a 500 word (or more) essay for each of their chosen topics, and attach their essays to the scholarship form in one Microsoft Word document. Each essay you write should choose a subject that incorporates the topic, and NOT directly “answer” the topic as a subject.

These essays are Personal Essays, meaning that the content of your essays should incorporate your personal experience, education, and research about aviation safety and/or SMS.

For example, if you are writing an essay in response to the question, “What are reactive and proactive safety cultures?” A good essay topic would be something like the following:

  • “How to go from a reactive to proactive safety culture”
  • “Ways to tell if your safety culture is reactive or proactive”

Both examples would incorporate the question naturally into the essay.


Choose 3 of the 8 following topics:

  1. Discuss ways to help encourage participation in aviation safety programs
  2. In your opinion, what are good aviation safety management practices for your particular area of aviation study?
  3. Discuss the mindset it takes to be successful in aviation risk management
  4. In what areas do you think aviation safety management systems can drive future improvements in the aviation industry?
  5. How and why is aviation SMS important for your particular discipline of aviation study?
  6. In your opinion, what is safety culture in the aviation industry? What does it look like?
  7. What do you consider the primary motivation of safety management systems in aviation – i.e. what specifically (more than just safety) does SMS address?
  8. Which aviation SMS training values are most important to your area of aviation study

Once again, remember that you are writing short, fun essays, so let your personality and some of your personal experiences shine through. Most importantly, keep in mind that there are no “right answers” and that scholarships are being awarded for depth and thoughtfulness – try to do more than give the “obvious response.”

Please feel free to browse through our SMS-Pro blog for inspiration and/or clarification.

Deadline and Awards

This is a semi-annual scholarship, with one summer and one winter deadline. One scholarship winner will be chosen per each deadline period. Late applications will not be considered.

  • Summer Deadline: July 1st, 2024.
  • Winter Deadline: December 31st, 2024.

Winners will be announced within three weeks of each deadline period, and will be chosen based on the quality, depth, and thoughtfulness of their essays.

Past Winners

December 2023: Ellen Kirby of Action Flying Service's essays offered a unique perspective as a former educator on ways to encourage participation in safety programs, the best mindset for aviation risk management, and why Aviation Safety Management Systems are important as a pilot .

July 2023: Art Son Rodriguez of the United Aviate Acadamey's essays included his vision of safety culture in the field of aviation and his thoughts on how to encourage participation in an organization's safety program.

December 2022: Jenny Mulholland of the University of North Dakota's Aerospace program's essays featured the SMS training values most important to a certified flight instructor, and pilots in general.

July 2022: Emily Garber of Spencer Aviation Flight Training's essays detailed continuous improvement by means of SMS, and Data analytics as applied to risk assessment.

December 2021: Kevin Britton of Western Air Flight Academy provided essays describing the difference that SMS makes for pilots and how to improve one's mindest in order to be successful in aviation risk management.

July 2021: Chelsea Montgomery of Airline Transport Professional's essays described the future of aviation safety through the use of data analytics and stressed the importance of a strong safety culture for SMS to succeed.

December 2020: Michael Shekari of Embry Riddle Aeronautical University's essays painted a picture of the future of aviation SMS with his descriptions of improvements that could be implemented not only in flight operations, but within all aspects of aviation.

July 2020: Allison Couch's essays communicated which aviation SMS Training values were most important to IATPL pilots.

December 2019: Cecilia Magnani of Hendersen State University went above and beyond in writing three excellent essays on risk management and how to get employees involved in SMS participation.

December 2017: Deborah Edward's essays showed top-notch understanding of the relationship between safety risk management and the psychology of risk in SMS training, incentives, and attitude.

JULY 2017: Hunter Cushing's essays displayed very specific technical understanding of what quality aviation SMS programs look like by demonstrating strong SMS philosophy in real world examples.

DECEMBER 2016: Jenna Lohneis' essays which focused on preventative safety and the "bigger picture" of SMS as a whole were particularly thought provoking and well researched.

JULY 2016: April Milos' essays on risk management, aviation safety, and safety communication demonstrated strong working knowledge of aviation SMS fundamentals.

Terms and Conditions

Please make sure you read and understand and accept the terms and conditions of this scholarship.

  • Applying Applicants may submit only one application per period, for a maximum of 2 submissions per year. Scholarship winners ARE eligible to reapply in following periods.
  • Rights NWDS retains the rights to modify and feature applicants’ submitted writing on the SMS-Pro blog. Should an applicant’s writing be featured on the ASMS-Pro blog, he/she will receive due credit as a guest writer, as well as notification of his/her featured post.
  • Funds Scholarship winners will receive a scholarship in the amount of $1,000, made payable to the winner’s university, college, or training program.
  • Failure to Comply NWDS will not consider applicants who do not check the “I have read and understand the terms and conditions box,” on their scholarship application.

Contact Information

Regarding questions about anything that is expected of you, please feel free to contact our scholarship representative who will be happy to assist you.

Contact name: Chris Howell
Contact email: [email protected]



  • Student enrolled in aviation program


  • July 1st
  • December 31st

Award Amount

  • $1,000 twice per year