Embry-Riddle Aeronautic University (Informational Lunch on 9/18/14)
ERAU has two campuses: one in Florida (located next to the Daytona airport) with 5,500 students, and one in Arizona with 2,000 students. “The Arizona campus is up in the mountains and just stunning!” said one of the reps. Students come from all over the country, and per capita, they travel further to attend ER than anywhere else in the country, coming from an average of almost 800 miles away. Currently, their student population is almost 80% male, but that’s slowly lowering towards 75%.
The university got its start in 1925 when Embry took a flight lesson – a $20 plane ride –from Riddle. From there, they started a flight school, an airline (now American!), and a mail route. They taught flight and maintenance classes in Miami through WWII, and the school officially became a university in the 1960s.
Some majors are only offered at specific campuses. Global Security, Forensic Biology, Wildlife Science, and Industrial Psychology (among others) are only in Arizona. Aerospace & Occupational Safety, Computational Math, Business Administration, and Unmanned Aircraft Systems Science (among others) are only offered in Florida. However, most majors are available at either campus. Usually, students will stay at one campus for their 4 years. Sometimes they move after freshman year, particularly if their academic interests shift, but they generally don’t bounce back and forth between the two.
There are a lot of interesting things going on academically. Clearly, any of the aviation sciences are incredibly strong. Options range from Aviation Business Administration to Aeronautical Engineering to Air Traffic Management. “We shape industry and write policy.” They have a crash lab; both airlines and the government will hire them to look at why crashes happen and how they can avoid them in the future. Aviation students pay per hour for flight training which can be $15-18,000 for the first year, and it decreases after that.
Engineering is another strong and popular area. In addition to all the subcategories you’d expect, students can study Motorsports and Unmanned and Autonomated Systems. They offer both Computer Science and Computer Engineering. Comp Sci majors builds the software; Comp Eng builds the interface and is almost a bridge between Comp Sci and Electrical Engineering (they build the hardware). They also offer 2 meteorology programs: Applied meteorology is much more math intensive. These are the people who create the predictive models for weather forecasting. Operational meteorology doesn’t create the forecasting; they have an understanding of the weather, but are looking towards broadcasting or other fields that need that understanding rather than doing the behind-the-scenes forecasting.
Just over a third of the students live on campus. It’s guaranteed and required for the first year, and it’s guaranteed for those who want it during the 2nd year. There’s a housing office to help students find off-campus housing, but a lot is found just by driving around. There are a lot of apartment complexes nearby. Most students will drive in and park on campus. All students can have cars, and at most, parking is 15 minutes away. Parking spaces are based on their residential status (living on campus or commuting).
In terms of admissions, Engineering is looking for close to a 3.9 GPA. They require pre-calc, physics, and chemistry, and they prefer that students already have calculus. For Aviation majors, they must have at least Algebra 2. Students can test out of classes through AP scores, but they recommend that students do the whole program so there are no gaps. It’s a little easier to test out of the English, social science requirements through AP. Merit based scholarships are based on the application. They are now test optional! If they do submit scores, they can’t hurt the students, according to the rep.
Two of the reps I spoke with are alumni. One was most surprised at the all the ways there were to get involved – that’s what made him comfortable, less homesick, and ultimately kept him at the school. The other rep was surprised by the drive and the focus of the students. At first he said that he couldn’t think of anything that they should never change because they shift to meet new technologies and needs of the job field – but then he said that they should never change their flexibility. One of them said that he’d like to improve the endowment so they can give out better scholarships. He said that he expects that this will improve over time: the alums are young, so they’re not donating as much as some other places.
Students who transfer out often leave because their academic interests have changed. Others go to their local state schools because of finances.
Florida has DII sports; Arizona has NAIA. Students can participate in Army or Air Force ROTC on either campus; Navy ROTC is currently only in Florida. About 15% of the students are in Greek life. Clubs include rocket club, skydiving, and scuba diving. There’s a new student center and res halls in the works for the Florida campus. Both reps said that the food is good. Students love the omelets! There’s also lots of non-dining hall options such as Chick-fil-a and Starbucks.