The Department of Aviation Technology in the Purdue Polytechnic Institute will be renamed the School of Aviation and Transportation Technology effective immediately. The change was approved by the Purdue University Board of Trustees at its October 9 meeting in West Lafayette.
"As we plan for future growth of our programs and aviation operations, creating a school structure makes sense to provide better collaboration, utilization of resources and visibility," said John Wensveen, professor and head of the school.
Within the last year, Aviation Technology has experienced growth in both the academic and operations sides. Its list of undergraduate majors has grown to seven, including new offerings in unmanned aerial systems, aerospace financial analysis, airline management and operations, and airport management and operations. It also became part of the new Purdue Research Park Aerospace district, which expanded the school’s ability to create research and other industry partnerships. As part of the deal, Purdue acquired the local fixed-base operator, now called Purdue Aviation LLC. Its operations can be incorporated into the curriculum.
According to Wensveen, that is just the beginning. The school is working on plans that allow students to complete their degrees in a shorter timeframe. Traditional and research-based bachelor’s degrees could be completed in three years instead of four. Master’s degrees and doctorates also would have quicker completion times, including a three-year combined master’s degree and PhD.
The academic enhancements are complemented by increased industry participation, which Wensveen said will benefit students, faculty and each industry partner. The school has created the Industry-Purdue Opportunity Pipeline, iPop for short, that will connect students in the aviation programs with a wide variety of aviation companies. Depending on the industry partner, students will be able to conduct research, participate in mentoring activities, or be placed in an employment track. Industry partners would also be able to take advantage of the educational programs offered by the school.
The expanded offerings show up outside of West Lafayette as well. The school will offer an aviation operations technology degree at Purdue Polytechnic Indianapolis, which will begin admitting students for Fall 2016 after a four-year hiatus. Students at the location will complete the final two years of a bachelor’s degree program started at Vincennes University.
School leaders are also investigating ways to expand their reach and expertise to other modes of transportation, such as rail and maritime. Both industries, Wensveen said, could provide additional research opportunities and benefit from the technology perspectives of the curriculum.
"All of our efforts, including the change to a school, focus on the dual missions of addressing operational challenges within the industry while facilitating positive education outcomes for students," said John Mott, clinical associate professor and associate head of the school.