A dream takes flight

Name: Jonathon Ziulkowski
Program: Aviation technology
Year: M.S. candidate
Hometown: Portage, Indiana

Current venture: Jon is the vice president for renewable fuels and chief pilot for Swift Enterprises, Ltd. a Purdue Research Park company working to advance the areas of power, energy and propulsion. Jon went from a part-time pilot at Swift to vice president of renewable fuels and is the holder of four fuel patents.

Most successful venture to date: Jon’s entrepreneurial spirit was fueled by a dream to pass along his passion of flight to future generations. “All I had was a vision; the chemistry, certification and engine work was something that I learned in order to pursue my dream. I am now in charge of the renewable fuels program. We are the recognized leader as having a replacement for 100LL general aviation fuel,” Jon says.

Purdue resources for New Venture Makers: Throughout his master’s degree program, Jon also took courses as part of the Entrepreneurship and Innovation certificate program. “I would definitely recommend any of the courses,” he says. “They expose you to entrepreneurs and people who help you succeed. It's all about networking!”

Given $1 million in venture capital: Jon said he would apply it to a technology venture. “Advancements in technology are how we move our society forward and to the forefront on the world stage. In the future, our strength will be in our intellectual prowess.”

Advice to future New Venture Makers: Never give up on your dreams, Jon says. “In my opinion, the only real trait that defines an entrepreneur is someone who is willing to put everything they have on the line to pursue their dreams.”

What's next: Jon plans to pursue expanding alternative fuel research and application into other transportation sectors and believes it is possible to replace all liquid transportation fuels used in the U.S. through his role at SwiftFuels. “Our work in general aviation, while the most critical, is just the beginning.”

By Grant A. Flora