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Regional Universities Fill Aerospace Needs

This piece was originally published in the Journal Record

The Regional University System of Oklahoma, or RUSO, offers degrees that meet the critical occupation needs of Oklahoma’s aerospace industry. Aerospace is Oklahoma’s second-largest industry and the state’s fastest-growing sector. More than 1,100 aerospace entities are based in the state, and the industry’s annual economic impact on Oklahoma is estimated at more than $44 billion. A dependable and educated workforce is essential to support the aerospace industry.

RUSO includes the University of Central Oklahoma, East Central University, Northeastern State University, Northwestern Oklahoma State University, Southeastern Oklahoma State University and Southwestern Oklahoma State University. Most RUSO students live within 50 miles of one of our campuses. RUSO universities cost about half the national average for a degree, and half of our graduates begin their careers with no student loan debt. The average annual total cost to attend is 46% less than at the University of Oklahoma or Oklahoma State University. RUSO graduates stay in the state and contribute to Oklahoma’s economy, and RUSO universities are committed to providing degrees that support Oklahoma’s critical occupations, including aerospace.

For example, the Aviation Sciences Institute, or ASI, at Southeastern Oklahoma State University has a rich history of academic and professional pilot accomplishments dating back 56 years. Its mission is to provide its students with the highest-quality aviation education and flight training possible. The ASI offers degree programs in aviation management, professional pilot, an aviation minor, and a master’s in aerospace administration and logistics. The institute’s airline partners in the Professional Pilot Program are Southwest Airlines, American Airlines and Delta Air Lines.

The University of Central Oklahoma’s Department of Engineering and Physics offers accredited bachelor’s degrees in electrical engineering, engineering physics, and mechanical engineering. Many graduates work in the aviation/defense industrial sector, including Tinker Air Force Base, Boeing, Northrup Grumman, the Federal Aviation Administration, Chickasaw National Industries, etc.

UCO recently launched a computer engineering program recognizing the need for engineers that have a strong background in embedded systems software development and cybersecurity. Tinker AFB donated a supercomputer cluster to UCO that expands UCO’s capabilities to perform computational research and education and to collaborate with Tinker AFB to meet their workforce development needs.

Southwestern Oklahoma State University has partnered with Delaware Resource Group to emphasize accredited programs in applied engineering management and manufacturing engineering technology and degrees in engineering technology, engineering physics and computer science.

Northeastern State University offers bachelor’s degrees in mechanical engineering, physics, and mathematics and computer science programs. NSU’s students have qualified for the World Championships for VEX Robotics and have won the Vex Would Championship Judge’s Award.

East Central University and Northwestern Oklahoma State University have pre-engineering programs, which prepare students for advanced study in aerospace and other high-demand engineering fields.

RUSO universities provide a high-quality education at an extraordinary value. Those who want to be a part of the largest growing industry in Oklahoma should consider exploring their passion for aerospace and defense careers at RUSO universities.

Connie Reilly is chair of the Regional University System of Oklahoma’s Board of Regents.

This piece was originally published in the Journal Record


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