Utilizing your aviation experience through communication
By Michelle Garetson
How do you feel about aviation news that is presented on TV or radio or in print? Do you think that the reporting is accurate or fair? Aviation is a dynamic industry, and events that make the news are usually dramatic. The layperson relies on those presenting the information and will form an opinion based on the sound bytes and print pieces received. Unfortunately, in many cases, those writing the news are not aviation industry people and therefore are writing from the perspective of what their aviation experience has been to that point.
Informed aviation communication is necessary to both educate as well as eradicate misconceptions held by the flying public. Also, those in the aviation industry require accurate information from reliable sources to maintain safety and compliance in their jobs.
The expertise of aviation technicians can be a useful tool to help present information. This is one of the reasons that Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University (ERAU) has developed an Aviation Communication degree program.
"We felt that there was a real demand in the industry," explains Sarah Fogle, Associate Dean for Academic Support and the current program coordinator for ERAU's Aviation Communication program. "When we began to examine that, we got such positive feedback from various professionals in the industry that there is a crying need for this. While aviation and aerospace sectors can hire communicators with degrees from other institutions, they most often lack the technical background that the employers would like for them to have. We felt that we could fill a niche here at Embry-Riddle by having a Communication degree, which combines the best of communication with a technical component, hopefully focused on aviation and aerospace."
The Aviation Communication degree is a Bachelor of Science degree that requires a minor, as well as an aviation foundation. It is a new offering to students, and the first freshman class began in the fall semester of 1999 at the Daytona Beach, FL, campus.
About 30 students are enrolled in the program, and some of those have transferred internally from other degree programs, such as engineering or aeronautical science.
In addition to general courses, students take 12 hours of Aviation Survey courses, and every student is required to take the "Foundations of Aeronautics" course. The aviation survey courses broaden students' aviation knowledge and give them a working vocabulary.
"The last, defined aspect of the curriculum is a technical minor or area of concentration," says Fogle. For example, students can get a degree in Communication and minor in Human Factors or Air Traffic Control or Aviation Safety to name a few."
"We're very excited about a new minor coming on this fall in Information Technology," Fogle adds, "which should offer a great blend of the Internet and the Web and the technical end of it."
Credit for A&Ps
While this new degree program is not part of the Embry-Riddle Airframe and Powerplant curriculum, Fogle agrees much of the credits used to earn the certificate could be applied toward the technical minor.
"They would be able to parlay at least some, if not a good bit of their expertise to achieve that," offers Fogle.
Where the jobs are
Fogle explains that the program is not a broadcast communication program, it's public relations, media relations and professional writing. Students would qualify for jobs in a whole array of areas such as journalism, technical writing, advertising, desktop or Internet publishing, communication consulting, speech writers, and broadcast news writers.
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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