aviation institute at high school, open to all students
Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University has established a
one-of-a-kind Aviation Institute in partnership with Choctawhatchee
High School in Fort Walton Beach, Fla. The institute, located at
the high school, will be open to students from all high schools in
the school district starting this fall.
At the Aviation Institute, instructors from Embry-Riddle will
teach several of the same courses that are offered at the
university’s campuses in Daytona Beach, Fla., and Prescott,
The new institute will offer three tracks that lead to degree
programs at Embry-Riddle.
- Aviation -- offers courses in air traffic management and
applied meteorology; two degree programs at the university.
- Aviation maintenance technology -- covers the general portion
of the university’s degree program in aeronautical systems
- Flight -- offers courses from the university’s
aeronautical science degree program, for students who plan to
become professional pilots. Flying lessons for this track will be
available at FAA-approved schools in the area and at Embry-Riddle
during the summer.
Students who take courses at the Aviation Institute can earn up
to 27 credits that are directly transferable to Embry-Riddle. Some
who enroll at the university could start out as second-year
The Okaloosa School District is constructing a 2,500-square-foot
maintenance training facility and renovating other buildings to
house the institute. “We’ve established a school within
a school, a distinctive Embry-Riddle campus at Choctawhatchee High
School,” said Rob Owen, professor and chairman of
aeronautical science at the university.
Dr. Owen expects that
100 students will show up when the institute opens this fall and up
to 250 students will be enrolled eventually, with 120 completing
the program each year.
The director of the new Aviation Institute is Leo Murphy, who
flew jet planes in the U.S. Navy for 30 years and wrote a book on
the history of aviation. Before retiring in June, he was commander
of the Navy’s Aviation Training School in Pensacola, Fla.
“This is a rare opportunity to expose young people to
aviation,” Murphy says. “These are college-level
courses, and we will have college-level standards. I think the
students will rise to meet those standards.” He says the
institute has already attracted strong support from residents of
the area, which is home to four military air bases – Eglin,
Hurlburt, Pensacola, and Whiting Field.
The aviation program is open to selected high school juniors and
seniors who have a GPA of at least 2.5 and are recommended by a