Ohio State program flies high: BTN LiveBIG
In 1903, Ohio’s Orville and Wilbur Wright successfully flew a motor-powered, heavier-than-air craft across the dunes of Kitty Hawk. It wasn’t long after the first flight that their home state’s flagship university followed them into the sky.
“At Ohio State we’ve been doing aviation education since 1917,” says Seth Young, Director of The Center for Aviation Studies at OSU. “That’s nearly one hundred years now and only a few years after the Wright brothers created their first plane right here in Ohio.”
In those heady early years, the university’s aviation program was a military affair, a product of WWI that turned flightless Army cadets into skilled pilots. Overall the school trained nearly 1,300 men for the war effort.
That era also saw the creation of a cutting-edge aviation laboratory to educate men on the basics of aeronautics, aviation construction, engineering and maintenance. Planes took off and landed from one of the first university airports in the country, a site now occupied by the Ohio Stadium.
Today, that pioneering spirit continues. The modern CAS is more than just a training ground for the pilots of tomorrow. The school offers study in a variety of emphases within the aeronautics industry from air traffic control and airport management to government affairs and policy.
“We have employers come to us,” says Nicholas Klein, a senior majoring in air transportation. “It’s because they know what they’re getting from Ohio State. They’re getting that person that can talk, that can be personable, and can do the job well and at the top of the class.”
In recognition of their robust program, Ohio State has twice been presented the Grover Loening Trophy, the premier award for collegiate aviation programs.
“It means more than just training great pilots,” explains Young. “It shows that we are the nation’s overall most outstanding aviation program. That’s education and engineering, business, arts and sciences, groundbreaking research and community engagement.”
Community engagement takes many forms at CAS, namely educational outreach. In conjunction with the Austin Knowlton Foundation and the Experimental Aircraft Association, CAS administers the Career Eagles Aviation Initiative. Career Eagles provides mentoring, afterschool activities and scholarship opportunities for middle and high school students hoping to pursue aviation at the college level.
Outside of the cockpit, CAS is a research leader helping develop the NextGen air traffic control system. This system, when fully implemented, will bring ground-to-air communications in line with 21st century technology. As discussed in a 2016 LiveBIG article, NextGen will mean reduced travel times and airport noise and pollution along with increased safety and fuel efficiency.
The strength of CAS also means the program is poised to meet the growing demand for pilots expected to arise in the coming decade. The new crop of aviators, like Klein, is choosing Ohio State for the unique opportunities and resources that the CAS provides.