HAI Member Spotlight: Southern Illinois University Aviation Technologies, Illinois, USA

Jen Boyer Top Story

Mar. 2, 2021

A look at an HAI member up close and personal.

Southern Illinois University Carbondale’s (SIUC) Department of Aviation Technologies (AvTech) is a certificated FAA Part 147 aviation maintenance technician (AMT) program within a four-year aviation maintenance management bachelor’s degree program.

An average of 135 students are enrolled in the AMT program at any one time. In addition to meeting the requirements to test for their FAA airframe and power plant (A&P) certificates, AvTech students specialize in advanced maintenance, avionics, or helicopter maintenance during their schooling.

SIUC’s specialization courses offer students an opportunity to focus their education on industry needs that go beyond the A&P curriculum. In avionics, courses include those in computer networking and administration as well as unmanned aerial vehicles. The helicopter specialization courses focus on field maintenance practices in addition to component repair and overhaul.

The school has 10 helicopters for training use in the Joseph A. Schafer Helicopter Lab Facility. In addition to lending his name to the facility, SIUC AvTech alumnus Schafer authored the school’s helicopter maintenance textbook, which is in the process of being updated by two SIUC AvTech faculty members. SIUC AvTech also hosts an FAA testing center and two designated maintenance examiners on-site.

SIUC AvTech’s bachelor’s degree in aviation maintenance management is also offered 100% online for certificated aviation maintenance technicians who wish to complete a degree while working in the industry. In this program, students receive course credit for both their FAA mechanic’s certificate and their relevant work experience. Since the online program’s launch in 2017, enrollment has steadily increased and now totals 40 students.

Field Maintenance Courses
Beyond academic courses, SIUC AvTech is also certificated to offer Bell 47, Bell 214, and Bell 205A-1 field maintenance courses for those seeking specialized training in these models. The classes run on an as-needed basis and typically accommodate 7 to 10 students each.

Faculty at SIUC AvTech are actively involved in grant-funded research projects, including the development of virtual-reality aviation maintenance training modules, retrofitting avionics simulators, and supporting Boeing projects.

Program Expansion
This year, SIUC AvTech will expand, partnering with the university’s aviation flight and management programs to become the School of Aviation. This will allow the previously three separate departments to more readily collaborate on new opportunities in both research and education.

The flight program recently acquired five new Cessna 172S training aircraft, while the management program is planning to roll out a new online master’s degree in aviation management.

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