Ivy Tech program: Sky-high potential

Daily Journal

An educational program that combines focused classroom lessons and hands-on application is a winner for both students and potential employers.

That’s the goal of a new program at Ivy Tech Community College — Columbus. Beginning in January, as many as 20 students can pursue an Aviation Certificate of Technology.

The Ivy Tech program is offered through a partnership with Greenwood-based Jeff Air Pilot Services and Columbus Municipal Airport. Jeff Air will provide a plane and flight training.

Students will be able to earn a private pilot’s license and ground school certification and will build the educational foundation necessary for careers in aviation management or commercial flight.

Although the 18-credit, two-semester program does not translate directly to a career, officials hope it will attract interest and expand in the future. Indiana State University, Purdue University and Vincennes University offer professional pathways to aviation careers, but none offers the credits at as low a cost as Ivy Tech.

The current Ivy Tech program provides a broad foundation with classes like Introduction to Aviation Technology, which covers the field of aviation and the regulations surrounding it, and Aviation Security and Emergency Planning, which looks at threat mitigation and security approaches.

And all parties — Ivy Tech, airport officials and representatives from Jeff Air — agree a two-year, transferable program will be the next step.

To find an example of the potential value of such a program, one need look no further than Columbus airport director Brian Payne. When he finished his degrees in aviation management and started his career, he had never plowed snow, never fueled a plane and never changed out a runway light.

“I showed up to the airport with a couple of degrees and really no hands-on experience,” he said. “I thought it was crazy. When we started this program, I wanted it to be a very hands-on approach to learning.”

So while students will complete some coursework in the Advanced Center for Manufacturing Excellence, much of their training will be completed on the runway or in hangars.

That combination of academics and real-world application will be of great benefit to students and to their potential employers. The students can hit the ground running — or take to the sky, if you prefer — on their first day at work.

At issue

In technical fields, students need a combination of classroom lessons and real-world experience.

Our point

By partnering with Greenwood-based Jeff Air Pilot Services, Ivy Tech can offer an aviation program that will help prepare students when they apply for jobs.