E-Degrees for AMTs
The GIGS and BYTES are flying, and a few aircraft technicians are reaping the rewards. Here's how to put that diploma in YOUR toolbox:
By Keith Jackson
Like it or not, a brave new world in higher learning has arrived: and not surprisingly, information technology is playing the lead role on the global stage. Gone are the days when earning a college degree meant living on a college campus, eating dormitory food and bunking with guys named after parts of the human body. Today, the ability to exchange information is the name of the game — as much as possible and as fast as one can get it.
This push for supreme efficiency has resulted in the advent of e-learning: Universities have realized that students can cover the same material and produce the same caliber of work online as they might in the classroom. This has opened doors for many professionals already out in the workforce and no longer in a position to ship off to the other side of the country to work on a college degree.
Simply put, technology has actually made pursuing a degree a whole lot easier. And with credit for the A&P license, you’re already halfway there. The protocol for procuring the ACE transcript and recommendation for 67 undergraduate credits was detailed by Bill O’Brien in "FAA Feedback" (AMT, May/June ’01). Once you have taken care of that process, it’s time, as they say, to go to school.
Trading pencils for pixels
The online format can be effective for several reasons; one of them is that in most cases, you can set the pace with regard as to how much you want to learn and when you want to learn it. Most virtual campuses are accessible 24-hours a day. And, taking classes online will allow you to network with other aviation professionals, creating contacts all over the world.
A "real-time" case study
A degree is the best way to improve salary status and future prospects for employment in whatever sector of the aviation industry. It can give you extra ammunition at the negotiating table or blast open the market for careers in management. Given the current shortage of instructors, it can create opportunities for those considering teaching as a step on the career path, as did Greg Mellema, an instructor with Abaris Training in Reno, NV.
Mellema is a prime example of a lifetime learner. An A&P and IA, he has been a mechanic for over 16 years. Mellema earned a B.S. degree in Professional Aeronautics from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, and is currently working toward Master’s degrees in Aviation Safety and Aviation Management — all online.
Having spent so much time in the virtual classroom, Mellema has a pretty good idea of the pros and cons of e-learning. He feels that the immediacy of classroom interaction is a big part of the experience that you don’t get in the online environment. One must wait after posting a question or comment to the online classroom for a response from instructors and fellow students. So, if you need face-to-face interaction to get a handle on course material, you might struggle at first with online classes. However, this does not negate the possibility of success in this format. Mellema adds that he feels a positive of this type of learning is that one is able to better articulate a response in the online format than what might be given in a real-time classroom situation. Overall, the experience for him has been a favorable one.
Online degree programs are one way that people already in the workforce can work toward a college degree or an advanced degree.
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