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Elyas Ahmadzai
Elyas Ahmadazi always knew he wanted to be an engineer.
He just didn't know that he would be working in the aviation
" When I first started working in the greater Detroit area, I
started in the automotive industry. After the downturn in
2008, I started looking for other engineering work in nonautomotive industries and I stumbled across Daifuku, which
introduced me to the baggage handling and aviation industry, "
Ahmadazi said.
Ahmadazi joined Daifuku in 2011 and has since been
promoted to controls systems supervisor and co-manages
the electrical and controls department. He manages a team
of 45 engineers, leading the design, commission, installation
Hometown: Novi, MI
and maintenance of airport baggage systems
Alma Mater: University of Windsor
throughout North America.
Fun fact about yourself: Love airplanes
" We do it all, from design to installation and
- Love to travel and explore new places - I
commissioning. Cradle to grave, " Ahmadazi said.
Passionately follow the NBA (Favorite team
In the past five years, Ahmadazi has been
is the L.A. Lakers and Lebron James is the
responsible for over $200 million in combined
total project value. He led the design, installation
Someone I look up to in the industry:
and commissioning of baggage handling
Todd Alderman (VP Daifuku)
systems at some of the busiest airports in North
My favorite thing about aviation is:
America, including Dulles, Boston, Philadelphia,
Being behind the scenes at an airport and
Orlando, Toronto, Minneapolis and Seattle.
observing the intricate operations that the
Ahmadazi managed the design, installation and
general public never sees.
commissioning of one of the very first Mobile
Inspection Table (MIT) installations in Checked
Baggage Reconciliation Area (CBRA) at Orlando
International Airport in 2018.

" There is always something new and challenging waiting for
me and my team every day, " Ahmadazi said of what he enjoys
most about his work. " I also love that I am not always in the
office. I go to our job sites to oversee our projects and see the
baggage handling system we designed on paper come to life.
I've done a lot of projects and the best part of completing a
project is when you see the first passenger bags come through
the system you designed and put years of hard work towards,
that gives me a great sense of accomplishment. "
As a leader of the electrical and controls design department,
part of the new Daifuku North America Innovation Center at
their Novi Headquarters, Ahmadazi has a key role in designing
the innovative airport offerings of tomorrow - such as
Daifuku's Baggage Tray System (BTS), Self-Service Bag Drop,
Mobile Inspection Tables and Early Bag Storage.
" Any project in the airport industry needs a tremendous
amount of design, planning and implementation. In an airport
environment, there is no down time. Most of the projects you
implement in an airport environment, you plan as much as
you can. You do all your planning and then once you start
implementing some of those plans, there's always unexpected
problems that come up. Then you got to be on your toes.
You got to come up with fast solutions, because you cannot
impact the live operation at an airport, and that's what keeps
me challenged on a daily basis and keeps me on my toes.
That's something that I love - it's not boring, " Ahmadazi said.

Jason T. Shepherd, PE
It was the summer after he graduated college, walking every
panel of pavement at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International
Airport (ATL) performing pavement inspection that set Jason
T. Shepherd on his career trajectory in aviation.
" It was life changing, to be honest with you, just seeing the
whole operations from the ground, " Shepherd recalled.
" Walking the runways, watching the operations at the airport
carry on from the ground - life changing. "
In some ways, Shepherd's experience was following in his
father's footsteps, who was as a land surveyor and worked on
the construction of ATL's new runway in the 1970's. Shepherd
often accompanied his father at work, which also helped lay
the foundation of his engineering career.
Hometown: Snellville, GA
" I get the drive for what I do from my father. I try to
build on the values that he instilled in me, " he said.
Alma Mater: Georgia Tech
As a project manager and civil/structural engineering
Fun fact about yourself: I married
section manager at Burns & McDonnell, Shepherd
my high school sweetheart, who I met
works on projects around the nation and globe.
in the 8th grade. We have three boys
Recently and notably, Shepherd's projects have
ranging from five to 12 and I'm heavily
included a role in the new concourse at LaGuardia
involved in sports with them.
Airport (LGA), just completed in October of 2019, as
Someone I look up to in the
part of the Delta Air Lines Terminal Redevelopment
industry: Quintin Watkins
Program. He also participated in several projects at
Chicago O'Hare International Airport (ORD) and ATL
My favorite thing about aviation
is: The people you meet and get to work
to prepare for the A-380 aircraft arrival. Shepherd was
with every day.
instrumental in designing the new passenger boarding
bridges to accommodate the double-decker aircraft.
Currently, Shepherd serves as project manager for a

new taxiway at Mercedita/Ponce International Airport (PSE)
in Puerto Rico.
" I really enjoy the types of projects we get to work on, the
people we get to work with, the airlines, the airports. Every
client is unique, " he said.
Shepherd is a member of the American Society of Civil
Engineers, the American Association of Airport Executives, and
sits on the Operations & Technical Affairs Committee for the
Airports Council of America.
He also works across multiple industries, supporting aviationrelated work for federal and government clients. He works
closely with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers- Savannah
District and the Naval Facilities Engineering Command
Southeast and Mid-Atlantic Districts, delivering hangar and
airfield solutions to support the critical missions and weapons
systems of the U.S. Armed Forces.
" When I started as a young engineer in aviation, I said, 'I want
to be a project manager and practice builder, mentoring young
staff and performing projects all over,' " Shepherd said. " Being
able to perform and work on projects at airports all over the
country like we do has really been a dream come true. "



Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Airport_Business_November_2020

Inside the Fence
Industry Update
A Smart Approach to Customer Wellness
Totally Boggus
How Color Biases Contribute to a Lack of Diversity in Aviation
Product Profile
40 Under 40
Airport_Business_November_2020 - 1
Airport_Business_November_2020 - 2
Airport_Business_November_2020 - 3
Airport_Business_November_2020 - 4
Airport_Business_November_2020 - Inside the Fence
Airport_Business_November_2020 - Industry Update
Airport_Business_November_2020 - 7
Airport_Business_November_2020 - 8
Airport_Business_November_2020 - A Smart Approach to Customer Wellness
Airport_Business_November_2020 - Totally Boggus
Airport_Business_November_2020 - 11
Airport_Business_November_2020 - How Color Biases Contribute to a Lack of Diversity in Aviation
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Airport_Business_November_2020 - 15
Airport_Business_November_2020 - Product Profile
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