Monday, February 24, 2014  

Flight school privatized | Geospatial sciences master's program approved

BGSU privatizes flight school operations

A new partnership has taken flight at BGSU. The University finalized arrangements last week to allow North Star Aviation Inc. (NSA) to provide flight instruction for the aviation program. The board of trustees approved the agreement Friday during its winter meeting at BGSU Firelands.

According to Dr. Venu G. Dasigi, interim dean for the College of Technology, Architecture and Applied Engineering, the agreement enables BGSU to expand the aviation program without increasing University costs for new equipment and additional personnel.

North Star, a full-service general aviation company based in Mankato, Minn., has established an Ohio company and will operate the training department as Bowling Green Flight Center LLC (BGFC). NSA runs a similar operation for Minnesota State University in Mankato.

As part of the agreement, BGFC will build a new hangar and classroom space, and provide flight instruction for the flight school, and BGSU will continue to provide faculty oversight for the program.

"We are always looking for strategic collaborations that enhance our programs for our students," said President Mary Ellen Mazey. "Because we are well aware of the importance of our aviation program to the University, the community, the state and the region, we see this partnership as a positive for our students, the University, Bowling Green Flight Center and the community."

"BGFC is experienced at providing this service in a university setting," Dasigi said. "They teach the flight classes, and our tenure-track faculty teach the remaining aviation academic courses. The college will maintain academic credentials and the flight center will remain in compliance with FAA regulations."

He also pointed out there is no change in faculty lines with this system. "The only difference is that BGFC hires and pays the flight instructors, working in close collaboration with the University.

"BGSU aviation students will benefit from a private company's ability to provide an up-to-date fleet of planes and state-of-the-art equipment," Dasigi said. The collaboration will allow the flight center to assist BGSU in helping meet the rapidly growing demand for trained commercial pilots both domestically and internationally.

BGSU has sold its nine airplanes, equipment, tools and inventory to the BGFC. In order to meet the demands of the projected growth in enrollment the company has begun repainting and upgrading the airplanes. With a predicted industry-wide pilot shortage over the next 10 years "BGSU will be positioned to increase enrollment at a time when the demand for pilots is on the rise," Dasigi said.


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Trustees approve new degree, move to attract transfer students

The board of trustees on Feb. 22 dealt with a broad array of academic and other issues.

To help meet the growing demand for geospatial professionals, the trustees approved a new master's degree program in applied geospatial sciences, which will be offered through the School of Earth, Environment and Society. The program will focus on using geospatial tools to solve problems in the natural and social sciences, with a particular focus on energy.

The program will be unique in the state because of its integration of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and remote sensing with natural and social science applications. It is a joint effort between the departments of geography, geology, and environment and sustainability.

Graduates will be equipped with a strong skill set that is highly marketable across disciplines from civil engineering to environmental management to geologic mapping.

"It's very important to us that our programs remain current with the needs of society and that we're giving our students the best preparation possible," said board chair Debra Ryan.

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