On any given afternoon, the air over north Norman often is filled with a ubiquitous light buzzing sound. Look up and that buzz can most likely be traced to any number of crimson and cream, single-engine planes sporting an interlocking OU on their trails. These planes belong to the fleet of the Department of Aviation in the University of Oklahoma College of Professional and Continuing Studies (PACS).
Since 1993, the University of Oklahoma’s Aviation Program has been an important aspect of the College. As OU PACS first undergraduate degree program, OU Aviation continues to support PACS mission of lifelong learning as well as their program mission and goal of providing students with the knowledge and skills that will prepare them for professional aviation-related careers.
“There is an exodus of talent in the framework of general aviation, and our goal is to facilitate new entry into the aviation workforce,” says Kenneth Carson, director of OU Aviation.
The OU Aviation’s first-rate fleet and facilities provide them access to the most advanced technology, as they represent the next generation of airline professionals training for jobs in the cockpit, boardroom, control tower and all points in between. OU Aviation excels in interactions of faculty and students in the educational process and directs its success to their advisors, instructors, and staff.
“We understand our students; they are our focus and we anticipate their needs,” Carson says. OU Aviation’s enrollment increases every year, and Carson says that this is because few people drop and there are not many changes between degrees. Students graduate with bachelor's in science out of the four aviation concentrations.
“It’s all different,” Carson says when talking about how students decide they want to go into aviation. “Some are touched in their youth. They look to the sky and are infatuated by airplanes.”
Scott Stephenson, an aviation sophomore says he has always wanted to fly planes. “You actually start flying your first semester.”
The OU Aviation students are involved various internships, honor societies and professional organizations, keeping the Aviation Department a close-knit group of people.
“Our goal is to take a student and give him as much education through the curriculum as possible and to give him an understanding of safe operations,” Carson says. “People in aviation have an unlimited opportunity.”
Students in OU’s Aviation Program have an initial and long-term competitive advantage as professionals in global organizations and in society. Though Aviation has seen a setback in jobs due to the recession, Carson predicts aviation will expand nationally in the next decade or two.
“Jobs are not secure upon graduation,” Carson says. “But students that leave OU will have a quality education—one that meets and exceeds the industry’s standards.”
Aviation is a department that is truly committed to their students’ passions and futures. It is a department that truly exemplifies the heart of OU’s College of Continuing Education. The dedication of its instructors and staff allow the success of its students continue to grow, making the Department of Aviation’s future bright.