December 22, 2010

SIUC-SWIC agreement benefits aviation students

by Pete Rosenbery

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- Students with associate degrees in aviation-related fields from Southwestern Illinois College in Belleville will be able to earn a bachelor’s degree from Southern Illinois University Carbondale’s nationally recognized aviation management and aviation technologies programs.

A recent articulation agreement between SIUC and Southwestern Illinois College, or SWIC, is “the continuation of an excellent partnership” initially forged in the early 1990s, said David A. NewMyer, chair of SIUC’s Department of Aviation Management and Flight. The “2+2” program agreement gives SWIC graduates in aviation maintenance technology, aviation management, aviation pilot training, or electronics technology preferential admission status to majors in aviation management and aviation technologies on the Carbondale campus.

“I am excited about this partnership and look forward to welcoming SWIC students as members of our Saluki family,” Chancellor Rita Cheng said. “We appreciate the opportunity to continue working closely with our colleagues at SWIC to benefit students and families in Southern Illinois.”

The articulation agreement is one of 17 that the University’s aviation program has with community colleges throughout the United States. NewMyer said he hopes the agreement can bring eight to 10 students from SWIC to SIUC each year. NewMyer anticipates a push for students to enroll in time for the summer and fall 2011 semesters.

“We are pleased to sign a new articulation agreement with the aviation programs at Southwestern Illinois College and look forward to SWIC students joining the nationally recognized aviation programs at SIUC,” said Terry A. Owens, interim dean of the College of Applied Sciences and Arts.

SWIC has been looking forward to the agreement, said Keith Mueller, coordinator of the SWIC aviation flight and aviation management programs.

“Once students see the SIUC program is in place for our students we will begin to see a significant growth in this program from the entire Metro East,” Mueller said. “SWIC already offers excellent quality aviation education program training at an attractive location and low cost. This agreement provides significant recognition for SWIC.”

Current SWIC students who earn associate degrees in one of those four majors, have 60 hours of transferable credit to SIUC, and an overall grade point average of 2.25 or higher on all accredited baccalaureate-level course, will also be eligible for the University’s Capstone Option for admission. The option guarantees those students can earn a degree in aviation technologies or aviation management with a total of no more than 60 semester hours, approximately two years, of work.

NewMyer explained that many baccalaureate schools do not fully recognize associate of applied science degrees, which lengthens the time a student must stay in school to earn a bachelor’s degree.

“We want them to finish there and then come here,” he said.

Currently, SWIC aviation program graduates who decide to take advantage of this agreement can pursue either the Bachelor of Science in Aviation Management -- which includes courses in such subjects as aviation safety management, airline management, airport planning and legal aspects of aviation -- or a Bachelor of Science in Aviation Technologies.

Students will be able to complete their bachelor’s degree with specializations in avionics, advanced aircraft maintenance, or advanced rotorcraft maintenance, said Michael A. Burgener, chair of the Department of Aviation Technologies. Jobs are “plentiful for our graduates possessing these advanced skills,” Burgener said.

SWIC students are a good fit, NewMyer said, pointing to the community college’s “excellent aviation programs.”

“We have been a partner with them for some time and we’ve seen their students come here and do well,” NewMyer said.

The initial agreement in the 1990s with then-Belleville Area College occurred when SIUC did not offer a bachelor’s degree in aviation technology and SWIC did not have an associate degree in aviation management, NewMyer said.

Mueller’s background includes 33 years in the commercial airline industry, primarily in aircraft maintenance and engineering department, and 35 years with SWIC’s aviation program.

“With the expected significant growth in aviation-related jobs this will provide area residents the opportunity for a university degree with all the convenience of completing more of the training in the area,” he said. “SIUC is nationally recognized for their role in quality aviation training; becoming a joint provider for that training provides equally credited recognition for SWIC.”