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Archive for the tag “Aerospace”

Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University (Daytona Beach)

Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, Daytona Beach campus (visited 2/11/16)


One of the academic buildings; the telescope sits right in the middle

This campus is sleek and modern with new buildings going up. The new student center (fall 2017) will have a rooftop area to watch launches and new dorms are being built with the first students moving in the fall of 2016. Even the welcome center is impressive: it feels like an Omni theater. It’s also a walkable campus; “I can get from the furthest dorms to the academic center in about 15 minutes without rushing,” said our tour guide.

ERAU airplane sculpture 4Students here have a common passion. They don’t just wake up one day and decide to do aeronautics. The tour guide said, “I can always tell who will do well here. I watch them when airplanes take off and land. If they stop to watch, they’ll fit in. Those who don’t should probably go somewhere else.” The admissions rep said, “These are kids who sit at airports and drool or stare at the sky night after night. They want to come here because they have a passion. We want to work with them.”

ERAU airport

The airport is adjacent to campus

Students can earn 1 or all 4 flight ratings while they’re here: Private, commercial, instrumental, and multi-engine. Students need a 1st or 2nd class medical clearance before they even get to school; the reps suggest getting the 1st class if they’re thinking about commercial airlines so they already know they qualify. Flight costs are on a pay-as-you-go basis above and beyond tuition, room, and board costs. For the first and second year, it averages $23,000/yr. For the third year it drops to about $15,000. Students can become Flight Instructors in the 4th year. In terms of scholarship money, if tuition isn’t covered, scholarships won’t go towards flight costs, but if students come in with enough money above and beyond tuition costs, it can help cover flight costs.

ERAU flight check

The Pre-Flight check area

Academics are strong and employers snatch up Embry-Riddle graduates, often with higher starting salaries than those coming from other schools. A faculty member said, “My students are my reputation. When I send them out, they represent me.” Students are challenged here and can apply to the Honors Program, but can also take advantage of individual tutoring labs for a variety of subjects if needed.

ERAU flight complexThere are a range of majors within 4 colleges at ERAU:

  • Aviation:
    • Aeronautics and Aeronautical Science: ERAU is #1 in aerospace (beating out the Air Force), and have even provided the Air Force with more pilots than the AFA.
    • Air Traffic Management
    • Aviation Maintenance and Aerospace & Occupational Safety
    • Unmanned Aircraft Systems Science
    • Meteorology
    • Operational Meteorology: Walmart and Home Depot have meteorologists working for them. Where do you draw the “We’re not sending snow blowers or hurricane panels” line? They understand business and weather.
  • ERAU acad bldg 3Business: This only offers 2 majors in Aviation Business and Business Administration
  • Engineering offers what they consider to be Technical Degrees. The average SAT 1390, ACT 32 (compared to 1100 SAT or 27 ACT for non-tech degrees). They would like calc and physics. However, the bare minimum is pre-calc and trig.
  • Arts & Sciences. The base of the telescope is set up in this A&S building; the building is designed to not touch the supports in case of a natural disaster or other problem with the architecture so it won’t damage the telescope.
    • Space Physics, Engineering Physics, Astronomy & Astrophysics
    • Homeland Security and Global Conflict Studies
      • “The learn how to hack into computers …”
      • They offer multiple travel trips every year to places such as Israel, Bosnia, Ireland, and Germany.
    • Computational Mathematics
    • Human Factor Psychology
ERAU propulsion lab

Propulsion lab

In addition, they offer lots of minors including Terrorism Studies, Avionics Line Maintenance, Aviation Law, Flight Test and Simulation, Forensic Accounting, Occupational Safety.

ERAU oxygen lab

Normobaric “Hypoxia” lab

Students start their major curriculum immediately. Labs are amazing with resources most schools only dream about. They have labs for everything including Visualization and Interactive 3D, Cybersecurity Engineering, Experimental Rocket Propulsion, and Destructive and Non-Destructive labs. The Destruction labs have microphones that listen for stress and can stop experiments before breakage occurs. The Spatial Disorientation Lab gets pilots to trust instruments when their senses are telling them something different from the instruments. The High Altitude Normobaric Lab is called the “Hypoxia Lab”: they change the oxygen levels and have students try to perform different tasks like picking up pencils, organizing things by color, and trading things with neighbors. “Everyone becomes like a two-year old.” This is the only university with this type of lab.

ERAU simulator 2

Flight Simulator

Aviation students spend about 20 hours in a CRJ-200 Simulator for their senior capstone. There are also 8 Cesna Simulators and 2 multi-jet simulators. Most students log about 250 hours by graduation; many have more. Our tour guide had logged 350 and is going to continue on as a flight instructor to get up to his 1000 hours required by the commercial airlines. Students who come in already with their private pilot license get 6 credit hours on their transcripts.

Many students take part in ROTC, and ERAU is ranked as one of the top programs in the country. All 3 branches are available here (and Navy has a Marine option), and we saw a lot of students walking around in uniform.

ERAU 5The gender ratio at ER has gotten much better in recent year. “When I started in 2005, it was 17 guys to every female,” said an admission rep who graduated several years ago. “Now it’s about 4.5 to 1.” All females get a $5000 “Women of Excellence” scholarship. They also have all-female Baja and other competition teams. The student at our lunch table said that these are fun and challenging. When they build things, they have to accommodate all the members: “I’m 5’10” – if they pick me to strap in and then get myself out in 5 seconds, it’s a very different thing than for our team member who is 5’1”. We have to plan for that.”

ERAU 7This is a highly residential campus. First-year students must live on campus, mostly in traditional style dorms. Upperclassmen have access to suite- and apartment-style dorms. They are redoing dorms in phases; one of the new sections will be done in the spring and they’ll start moving people over so they can start the next phase. Campus activities are plentiful (the free Thursday night movies got a couple mentions). Athletics are transitioning to NCAA DII. The dining hall is good; students get a certain number of swipes per week that do not roll over, “but we can cash out our unused swipes for food at the market.”

Daytona Beach is located in tropical, coastal Central Florida providing for excellent flight conditions. They’re close to Orlando, Jacksonville, and Cape Canaveral. Not only does that provide lots of opportunities for co-ops (very big here) and other internships, it gives students lots to do.

ERAU doesn’t take the Common App – but they are test optional. Students can still get scholarships without the score, but in order to get the maximum amount, they should turn them in. They ask for at least 2 letters of recommendation but will take more. “Think of it as an interview” said the rep. “It gives us a way to get to know the student.” International Students do not need a TOEFL if they’ve spent 2 years at an English-speaking school and their grades are good. Otherwise, they need at least a 79 on the exam. Also, if they want merit-scholarships, they do need to submit the SAT or ACT. Serious cross-apps usually also apply to places like MIT, Georgia Tech, Florida Tech, and the Service Academies.

© 2016

University of Colorado – Boulder

UC-Boulder (Visited 10/2/12)

CU1I can’t remember being on any other campus and thinking, “This place really smells good!” I had been excited about seeing Boulder because I had heard nothing about good things about the university and about Boulder itself, named the Smartest City in the US by Forbes magazine because so many companies are based here including the universities, Lockheed Martin, Celestial Seasonings, etc. Boulder is a great city by itself, but they’re also only 30 miles from Denver (a city of 2.5 million) for students have access to a major metropolitan area; go 30 miles in the other direction and you hit the Continental Divide (population – 0). You really get the best of both worlds.

CU stadium

CU Ralphie

Ralphie statue

Football is huge here. Students do have to pay for tickets which is a bit unusual, but maybe not so weird at bigger universities. A season pass costs $175 which the students I talked to thought was reasonable. Their mascot is Ralphie the Buffalo – a REAL Buffalo who weighs in a meager 3500 pounds. Ralphie, who is actually a female, runs the field before all home games. She lives somewhere near campus, but her actual location is top secret, known only to her handlers, the “Ralphie Runners” (who, in order to become a handler, must prove that they can run extremely fast because of Ralphie’s speed); apparently students from two rival schools had once kidnapped her and spray-painted her with their schools’ names. Now, to keep her safe (and clean!), they don’t release her location other than to those people who take care of her. A statue of Ralphie is in the plaza outside the stadium; the stipulation of the donation was that she faced east towards Nebraska, the big rival. However, now that they’ve changed divisions and don’t play Nebraska anymore, it doesn’t mean so much (although the tour guide said that now her butt is facing most of their opponents, so maybe that’s ok!).

P1000866Sports in general are popular (both for spectators and to participate in) and strong (with 24 NCAA championships). Boulder has been named the 2nd healthiest city in the US and there’s more protected open space around the city than in other areas. There are 11 ski areas within 3 hours of campus. 70 Olympic Athletes live or train in the area. If you want outdoorsy options, this is the place for you! The campus is bike and pedestrian friendly. All students can have cars, but it’s discouraged because parking is limited. Lots of students have bikes, and buses run frequently. Like other big schools I’ve been to, there are a lot of bikes and bike-racks around – and I even saw 2 “bike-fixing stations” that have all sorts of tools if something goes wrong. The sidewalks are separated into a pedestrian side and a bike side because there’s so much of each type of traffic and they try to minimize back-ups and accidents.

CSU quadEven though they are the University of Colorado, most people call the school CU. When I asked why, the tour guide thought maybe so they weren’t confused with UC Berkeley since both places are UCB. This is the flagship campus of the UC system; the creation of the university was written into the state charter when Colorado became a state in 1876. The campus is one of the most uniform in terms of looks that I’ve ever seen. The buildings are all done in the Tuscan style with stone from Colorado; we were told that it’s actually mandated that all new buildings conform to the new style. When I spoke to a student about CU, she said “it’s so . . . cement!” which surprised me because I thought it was beautiful – but she was commenting on the lack of open green space and quads. However, there are grassy areas to be found; it’s definitely a beautiful place.

On of the quads on campus

On of the quads on campus

CU acad bldgThe kids walking around campus were mostly casually dressed but not in the “crunchy,” outdoorsy style that Boulder seems to have gotten a reputation for; a few were dressed up in dresses and fancy shoes. Very few students were plugged into iPods as they walked around campus which was good to see – they were interacting with each other. There’s a great deal of diversity in the student body. Racially, this was easy to see walking around, but they also have religious, socio-economic, and geographic diversity. Students come from all 50 states. This year, there are 2400 out-of-state freshman compared to the 3100 in-state. Surprisingly, only 4% of the population is international; I expected a bit more. Also surprisingly, the population is 54% male, unlike the trend found at many other universities. OOS tuition is locked in at the first year rate (to attract OOS students). In-state students see tuition increases every year, but it’s still cheaper than OOS tuition. There is a way for OOS students to gain independent status and therefor CO residency for tuition purposes, but the tour guide wasn’t sure how that happened.

CU2CU coffee signAcademics seem to be uniformly strong. Journalism and Mass communication merited specific mentions: students can get involved in advertising, broadcast news, production, and more. The business program (which attracts 12% of the students on campus) is ranked #36 in USNWR. 12% of the student body has declared a business major; they can concentrate in accounting, finance, management and entrepreneurship, marketing, and an open option. The Engineering and Applied Science department ranks is the 19th in the country. The aerospace program is #1 and is partially funded by the government. Two NASA astronauts teach in the department. The biology department has a cadaver lab in which undergraduates can take classes. The music program only has 250 students. Environmental Design allows students to do architecture, design, landscape, and more.

This is the first time that I saw students with “clickers” – small white plastic rectangles about an inch wide and about four inches long with five buttons labeled A- E. Many professors have students “log in” for attendance purposes in some of the bigger classes. We saw two lecture halls that actually had balconies that looked a bit like box seats at a theater. Professors can also have the students answer questions during lectures in order to check for understanding. It was supposedly developed by one of the physics professors on campus.

CU bikes 2There is more going on extra-curricularly than people know what to do with. Thirteen percent of the population is Greek, and Greek Life provides a lot of social activities on campus for members and non-members alike. The campus has the only ice rink and the only bowling alley in Boulder. There are hundreds of clubs, and if a student wants to start one that isn’t offered already, he or she can do so with $25 and three friends. Volunteering and community service is HUGE here. CU is one of three colleges that won “College with a Conscience” last year because of the number of community service hours completed by the students.

CU 4The dining hall is great. In the dining hall we ate lunch in, there were food stations from 8 different countries as well as a kosher station. One of the admissions people said that “ We’ve moved up from the Freshman 15 to Freshman 35.”

CU has an impressive 89% retention rate from first to second year. They attribute this in part to the 19 Residential Academic Programs and Living-Learning Communities. Many residential halls have classes attached to them. Two classes each semester are taught in these classes in small group settings. Study abroad is also big: 26% students study abroad for a year, a semester, or a 3-week summer program. They have 330 programs in 70 countries.

(c) 2012

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