Aviation can take people almost anywhere, and it has taken Marshall University all the way to Southern Utah University.
The two universities are making a joint effort to explore the possibilities of creating a program that would offer a bachelor’s degree in aviation based in Marshall’s South Charleston campus.
Marshall President Jerry Gilbert recently made the trip to the southwest region to explore the facilities offered at SUU. This trip also resulted in the signing of a memorandum of agreement between the two institutions to build a program while utilizing each other’s assets.
In an SUU online news release, Michael Mower, executive director of SUU aviation, said, “Not only is it the first time two universities have partnered together on these types of flight programs, but the ability for us to expand the program and service the industry needs for helicopter, airplane and maintenance will be multiplied. Our industry partners are very excited about what this means for the training world and aviation industry as a whole.”
The memorandum of agreement signed by Gilbert and SUU President Scott L. Wyatt details pilot program ideas for Marshall’s Huntington and Charleston campuses, utilizing the West Virginia airports, Yeager Airport and Huntington Tri-State Airport.
Also outlined in the agreement is reaching a goal of “1,100,000 pilots and 1,200,000 maintenance workers over the next 18 years,” as well as an estimated two million cabin crew members, according to the SUU news release.
Marshall Provost Jaime Taylor said he is excited for the potential this program has at Marshall University, and he thinks Marshall is the best way to introduce this new industry to the state.
“If you’re going to move an industry into the state of West Virginia, it has to be led by higher education,” Taylor said. “The higher ed basically has to develop the work force to then basically attract the industry. Marshall is a leader in West Virginia. If we’re going to attract an industry to the state of West Virginia, Marshall is the one that’s going to have to take the lead on that.”
The potential for an aerospace program at Marshall has been talked about for some time now. Local business developers, like the Huntington Area Development Council (HADCO) and the Robert C. Byrd Institute (RCBI), have been pushing the development of this industry for the Huntington tri-state area and Marshall for months. Now, the possibility of growth for this industry is seeing traction.
Trey Delida can be contacted at [email protected]