Meet: Elisha Novak
Senior Airport Planner
Who I Am:
I am a senior airport planner and environmental planner for the Airports
Division of the Federal Aviation Administration, FAA. I review Airport
Master Plans that describe the planned changes airports will make in the
next three years. I make sure that the plans comply with the laws passed
by the United States Congress. In addition we advise airports on development
questions, environmental questions, consultants and funding. We do inspection
of airports for various compliance issues. For example we check to see
if required documents are current and up to date. The Airports are required
to file National Environmental Protection Act documents and airport layout
plans. It requires lots of knowledge because both industry and airport
consultants ask the FAA for authoritative opinions on a wide range of
topics and technical issues.
My Career Path:
I went to
architecture school. Toward the end of the program I was trying to decide
whether I wanted to specialize in transportation, medical or industrial
plants and factories. I decided that transportation would be the most
fun and challenging. I viewed that airports were a place of interchange
for all different modes of transportation.
went after a master's degree and a doctorate degree in transportation
engineering. I came to the University of California at Berkley because
they had a major transportation engineering department and there was a
professor who wrote the very first textbook on airport planning. Dr. Horonjeff
was the son of the last consulate of Czarist Russia to San Francisco.
I had seen his book and spoken to him about pursuing airport planing.
He asked about my background and I told him I was an architect. He said
that he didn't work with architects. I asked him to give me ten minutes
to talk to him and he later became my advisor.
after graduate school I was recruited to help plan for the impact on air
transportation for the upcoming Olympics in Los Angeles. After that I
came back to the Bay area. I went to work for Bechtel Corporation. They
sent me to Sydney, Australia to plan changes at the airport to help Sydney
host the 2000 Olympic games. This airport has been built and is accommodated
this year's Olympic athletes and fans. Most of the engineering work Bechtel
Corporation did was overseas. I wanted to have a job that did not require
so much foreign travel so I could spend time with my two young daughters.
ThatŐs when I came to work at the Federal Aviation Administration.
As a Child:
I saw people flying gliders up and fell in love with flight. I built
model airplanes and gliders and joined the Civil Air Patrol. I pursued
a private pilot's license. I wanted to be an Air Force pilot. My last
day in high school I realized my vision would not past the test for Air
Force Pilot Training.
Why I Like my Job:
The positive side of my job is that'you are always looking at new
developments and your are in a position to make decisions. ItŐs a friendly
environment. This career will continue to offer opportunities and air
transportation will continue to grow. The only negative side of my job
is that I don't get to design. I always review and comment on somebody
I had a mentor in the Business School at Berkley. He was the author
of the original textbook for operations research and the systems approach.
You should have an understanding of systems for working on airports.
In the future I hope to continue working at the FAA and continue to
run my small consulting business on the side.
I have two daughters. One teaches at a business school in Chicago and
the other just graduated college. I like to travel overseas and I like
to hiking and camping especially at Yosemite National Park.