Indiana's Ivy Tech Community College needs input from the state’s flying community before the school can take its next step toward creating aviation management and professional pilot associate degrees.
The college, located at Columbus Municipal Airport, wants to expand its current six-course certificate program and has developed a 10-question survey asking how the Hoosier State’s aviation businesses can best utilize Ivy Tech’s college graduates.
Bryan Budds, AOPA Great Lakes regional manager, said Ivy Tech’s partnership with the Columbus Municipal Airport is a win for both facilities and could help bring future jobs to Indiana while bolstering the state’s economy.
“The initial step in creating the two degrees is a certificate program in aviation technology,” said Budds. “This is seen as the proof of concept for the new aviation programs in Indiana.”
Budds asked AOPA members in the state to “take the survey if they are associated with an employer hiring pilots or share the survey with their local airport businesses that currently have pilots on staff.” The questions seek to identify specific needs of aviation businesses in Indiana.
Columbus Municipal Airport Director Brian Payne said Ivy Tech is Indiana’s largest state college and already shares an excellent relationship with the airport, so expanding the program would be a natural fit.
“Ivy Tech is located just a stone’s throw from the building I’m sitting in,” said Payne, an instructor at the certificate program. He teaches a hands-on aviation operations class. “They learn everything from how to plow snow, how to work on runway lights, how to perform fuel quality control testing, and even how to properly fuel aircraft.”
Payne’s experience as an airport management graduate from Indiana State University consisted largely of course study and very little experience operating an airport, which is the opposite of his idea for a successful degree program. “I had never plowed snow or worked the flight line, it was all classroom work. But here at the airport terminal building, we go out to the field for something almost every class. In fact, last night we went out and did runway Mu testing [for braking effectiveness]. It’s really a great hands-on opportunity to get students to the program.”
Getting the survey into the hands of pilots, aviation businesses, and high school instructors is crucial to fine-tune potential courses for the two-year degree, he said. Payne said high school science, technology, engineering, and math teachers can provide an advanced foundation for students preparing for the current crop of boomer-generation pilots and mechanics who will be retiring.
“Ivy Tech provides an excellent program for the price per credit hour and it’s a great way of starting in the field of aviation,” Payne said.