High Tech With a Human Touch” is the mantra at Florida Institute of Technology, and if the university’s successful aviation programs are any indication, it’s a creed that has worked out well for this recognized flight training school. Boasting graduates who have gone on to become astronauts (five of them), airport managers, safety specialists and pilots, Florida Tech should be in the sights of anybody looking for high-quality aviation degree programs, top-notch flight training or both.
Florida Tech has been around since 1958 with its ideal location minutes from Melbourne International Airport on Florida’s Space Coast. If the quality of training doesn’t convince you, their location will, with more than 300 days of sunshine annually, immediate proximity to 72 miles of warm-water beaches along the Atlantic Ocean (with some of the East Coast’s best surfing), one of the busiest cruise ship ports in the world and ready access to unique attractions such as Kennedy Space Center.
The university’s flight training arm, FIT Aviation, is one of few collegiate operations offering both the American (FAA) and European (EASA) pilot certificates. In fact, it was the first university program in the United States with an independently approved EASA Aviation Training Organization certification. “This is important because the European airlines operating the European, Middle East and Asiatic routes, in many cases, require EASA pilot certification to pilot their airliners,” explained Ken Stackpoole, Florida Tech’s vice president for aviation programs. “All three of those markets are rapidly expanding, and Florida Tech is excited to be able to contribute to their growth.”
For degree and non-degree flight students interested in domestic certification, FIT Aviation offers a Part 141-approved training program that graduates pilots with an FAA commercial certificate with multi-engine and instrument ratings. The non-degree ab initio program takes students from zero hours to qualified commercial pilots with about 205 flight hours.
Florida Tech is a well-respected university and offers a variety of flight and non-flight degree programs at both undergraduate and graduate levels. Undergraduate majors include aeronautical science, aviation management and aviation meteorology, all offered with or without flight training. The aviation management with flight program and the aeronautical science with flight program are certified by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to receive the maximum time reduction allowed toward the Airline Transport Pilot (ATP) certificate. Graduates of these programs are eligible for a restricted ATP at 1,000 flight hours. Graduates of the aviation meteorology with flight program are eligible for a restricted ATP at 1,250 flight hours.
Undergraduate minors are available in unmanned aerial systems, aviation safety, aviation human factors, aviation environmental science, flight technology and aviation management.
At the graduate level, students can earn master’s degrees in aviation human factors, airport development and management, and applied aviation safety, or a Ph.D. in aviation sciences. Florida Tech also offers a number of online degree programs, including a bachelor of arts in aviation management and master’s programs in aviation safety, aviation management and human factors in aeronautics.
“Our online programs provide an outstanding opportunity for aviation professionals worldwide to benefit from Florida Tech’s superior online delivery expertise and unsurpassed aviation management curricula,” said Korhan Oyman, dean of the College of Aeronautics. Florida Tech’s online programs offer a convenient way for aviation professionals to progress in their education.
The university’s innovation doesn’t stop there. Florida Tech was the first regionally accredited national university to offer large jet-airliner type rating courses for academic credit that may be applied to a four-year bachelor’s degree. Its College of Aeronautics offers a three-course, six-credit airline pilot training sequence leading to a type rating in either the Airbus 320 or Boeing 737, utilizing Level-D full-motion simulators. The training is conducted through AeroStar Training Services, located at the Orlando International Airport. Students looking to pursue an airline career can earn their type rating before they graduate, significantly enhancing their employment prospects.
Students interested in air traffic control (ATC) can pursue Florida Tech’s specialized ATC program. The college offers an ATC specialization in conjunction with all of its bachelor’s degree programs. The ATC specialization meets the requirements of the FAA’s Air Traffic-Collegiate Training Initiative (AT-CTI) and is FAA approved. Graduates of the AT-CTI program are eligible to bypass the Air Traffic Basics Course, which is usually covered during the first five weeks of qualification training at the FAA Academy in Oklahoma City.
Another of Florida Tech’s strengths is its relatively new 44-aircraft training fleet. Offering primarily Piper aircraft with G-1000 “glass” cockpits, the school also maintains a Citabria with steam gauges, and owns 11 Redbird and Frasca simulators. Since flight instructing is key to the college’s aviation program, FIT Aviation offers an eight-week Certified Flight Instructor (CFI) program that includes 16.5 flight hours, 60 hours of ground school, 40 hours of FAA written exam prep and spin train-ing. The school is so focused on flight training (and boasts one of the best safety records of any college flight program) that it offers a CFI scholarship through the College of Aeronautics.
College life at Florida Tech runs the gamut, with some 4,600 students enrolled at the Melbourne campus. The university supports four aviation-related student organizations: the Florida Tech Falcons Precision Flight Team, Collegiate Aviation Business Executives, International Society of Air Safety Investigators and Women in Aviation. The college hosts an aviation career fair in the fall, as well as an annual Aviation Day. Financial aid, including veterans’ benefits and merit scholarships, is available to degree-seeking students. The university is regularly recognized for its quality by various popular publications, including U.S. News & World Report, Times Higher Education and The Princeton Review.
We’re lucky in the United States to have a vast variety of aviation colleges to choose from. The difficulty is differentiating between all of them, especially when it comes time to make the financial and personal commitment necessary to begin your education. With its respected aviation curriculum, wide variety of undergraduate, advanced and online degrees,and sunny location, Florida Tech should stand out as a top contender for both flight training and a university degree that means something.