New aviation minor to be offered by engineering school

Students will learn how to fly out of the Mannassas Regional Airpot (photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons).
Students will learn how to fly out of the Mannassas Regional Airpot (photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons).

Beginning in fall 2013, the Volgenau School of Engineering will introduce a new minor in “aviation, flight training, and management."

“The demand for pilots is growing as the number of airline pilots is decreasing, so we want to bring this minor to GMU to allow students to gain the necessary skills to fill this growing need,” said Lance Sherry, director of the Center for Air Transportation Systems Research.

Originally, aviation systems was a concentration in systems engineering but has branched off as its own minor. The department is looking to one day make the program available as a major.

Sherry stressed the career opportunities associated with the aviation minor.

“For any student who wants a high paying and secure job, transportation systems is the way to go,” Sherry said. “Most of our students with a concentration in aviation not only get great experience, but most also get job offers before they graduate.”

There are 18 credits required for completion of the minor. There are three required courses: ground school, flight training lab I and flight training lab II.

In ground school, students gain detailed knowledge about the terminology, government rules and regulations and logistics of flying. The flight-training lab is unlike anything that Mason has ever had. Students first learn how to fly with a simulation and then go on a solo flight.

Students head to Manassas Airport, where airplanes are provided through Aviation Adventures, and would practice taking off and landing by flying around the airport. In flight training lab II, students must complete a cross-country flight in order to pass the class. Cross-country flights could be anywhere from New York to Tennessee.

Aside from these one of a kind labs, students will also have to take classes in psychology, management, engineering and history, all of which will be geared towards aviation.

“Human decision-making is a very important part of aviation. 80 percent of all accidents are a result of human error,” Sherry said. We want to reduce this by training students to know how the brain works so they can make the best decisions possible.”

Sherry believes that the minor will give students an upper hand in the aviation job market.

“There are two candidates for a job. One has a pilot license and the other has a minor in ‘aviation, flight training and management.’ Chances are the second person will get the job because they have been trained in all areas of aviation, not just flying,” Sherry said.

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