Mount Allison/ MFC's first BSc aviation class takes flight

Staff ~ The Sackville Tribune Post
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Pictured are members of Mount Allison University’s first bachelor of science in aviation class Justin Dwyer and Ish Patel. Dwyer and Patel are set to graduate during Mount Allison spring convocation ceremonies on May 13.

SACKVILLE, N.B. – Mount Allison University and the Moncton Flight College will celebrate their first graduating class in the bachelor of science in aviation program – a joint initiative that allows students to obtain their commercial pilot’s license while earning their undergraduate degree. Students will receive their degrees during the University’s 2013 Convocation ceremonies on May 13.

The aviation program is the first degree of its kind in Atlantic Canada and one of only a few nationally. It serves to answer the growing demand for pilots with a university degree.

Graduating student Justin Dwyer of Paradise, Nfld., says, “I started flying at the age of 16 and really wanted to get my university degree and pursue my pilot’s license. When I heard about this program, it gave me the best of both worlds.”

Undecided about his immediate future plans, Dwyer intends to look into various options including flight instructing or working with bush planes or smaller airlines to gain more experience in the industry. While students are required to earn 200 flying hours for their commercial pilot’s license, many commercial airlines require a minimum of 1,500 hours for their pilots to ensure adequate experience.

Dwyer says, “I think the combination of the degree and license gives us an advantage. While there are many steps to becoming a commercial pilot, I’m glad to have earned both my license and a degree at the beginning of my career.”

Brampton, Ont., resident Ish Patel is also graduating this spring. Patel had never been to the Maritimes or flown a plane before attending Mount Allison. He started flying in his second year and has now flown across the region and as far as Quebec City.

“The program has been great; it’s very busy. A lot of days you spend time on both campuses, taking classes, ground school, flight simulation, and flying. Various factors, like the weather can affect your flight schedule, and you need to set aside several hours prep for one flying hour. I’ve had some really early morning and late night flights as part of my education,” says Patel.

Patel plans to eventually work as a commercial pilot. He will be working on Vancouver Island this summer with the coast guard and studying to upgrade his license to include float planes, allowing him to land on water in addition to runways, an essential skills for bush pilots.

Mount Allison math and computer science professor Bob Rosebrugh, who has had his pilot’s license for nine years, serves as the program’s co-ordinator. He’s pleased to see the first students graduate from the program he helped to establish.

“The graduating class is a great group of students. They are very close, attending classes, ground school, and of course, flying together over the past four years. There are many different career paths and stepping stones one can take in aviation, but I’m sure they will all be successful in their endeavours.”

Mel Benson, director of advanced education at the Moncton Flight College, says, “The significance of a university degree for airline pilots and other aviation careers has grown in the last decade.

“Complex aircraft and operating environments are pushing demand for pilots who have demonstrated analytical, critical thinking and decision-making skills. Flight-hour experience is still the essential requirement but degrees are becoming the new exchange currency for companies hiring pilots.

“The Mount Allison and Moncton Flight College partnership with the B.Sc. (Aviation) degree provides students with credentials from two premier schools in Canada — a solid foundation on which to build their career in the exciting world of aviation and aerospace.”

For more information on the bachelor of science in aviation program please visit http://www.mta.ca/faculty/science/aviation/index.html

Organizations: Moncton Flight College, Mount Allison University

Geographic location: Atlantic Canada, Paradise, Brampton Quebec City Vancouver Island

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