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Top U.S. aviation universities: an interview with Broward College


We interviewed Russell McCafferey of the Broward College Emil Buehler Aviation Institute in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, and asked all about the organization’s courses, history, alumni, and more. Find out everything you need to know below.

An interview with Broward College

ACS: Thanks for taking the time to answer our questions, Russell! First off, what courses do you offer aviation and aeronautics students?

BC: At the Broward College Emil Buehler Aviation Institute, we offer several courses in aviation. We have an Associate of Science degree in Professional Pilot Technology where a student can get all of their pilot ratings; Private, Instrument, Commercial, Multi-engine, CFI, CFII, MEI. We have an Associate of Science degree in Aviation Maintenance Management, and Aviation Administration, which has concentrations in either Air Traffic Control, Airport Administration, or Aviation Business. Recently we also introduced a Bachelor of Science degree in Aerospace Sciences with two concentrations: Professional Pilot and Aerospace Management.


ACS: What makes Broward College’s courses for aviation and aeronautics unique?

BC: Broward College’s aviation programming is unique because we’re located right on North Perry Airport (KHWO) and our partnered flight school is located within our facility, making it simple for students to go to class and fly with no additional travel time. Also, since we are a state college, we have financial aid, college loans, Parent Plus loans, and work study available to students. We also have self-examining authority for three ratings (Private, Instrument, and Multi-engine), which means no Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Designated Pilot Examiner is needed for those ratings as we have the authority to sign off. Lastly, for pilot students we have an extremely low deposit ($3,000) compared to other schools and we are very affordable.


ACS: How long has the Broward College aviation school been in operation?

BC: The Broward College Emil Buehler Aviation Institute has been in operation since 1966.


ACS: Have any famous or noteworthy professionals in aeronautics or aviation studied through Broward College?

BC: Our most famous graduate is Barrington Irving. In 2007, he became the youngest person to fly solo around the world.


ACS: How many students do you take on each year?

BC: There are generally no limits to the number of students we can accept each year. The exception is the aviation maintenance program, where currently we are only able to accept around 200 new students each year. However, we are expanding our facilities and anticipate that we will be able to accept more students into that program within the next year.


ACS: How long are each of the courses?

BC: Courses are generally run on a semester basis and are normally eight weeks or 16 weeks. Some of the aviation maintenance courses have different course lengths, but generally no more than four weeks each.


ACS: As one of the top colleges for aviation and aeronautics, we’re guessing there are many aircraft lovers at Broward College. Care to let us in on your favorite aircraft?

BC: If it flies, we’re a fan!


ACS: What are you most excited about when it comes to the future of aviation?

BC: The tremendous number of well paid jobs available to the future generation is probably the single most exciting aspect of aviation right now. Students who are studying now, and those who will come behind them, have access to an almost unimaginable number of jobs around the world.


ACS: How is Broward College preparing its students for the future of the industry?

BC: Our primary focus has been on expanding our programming to make more degrees and career training opportunities available to students. Most recently we started a Bachelor of Science degree in Aerospace Sciences. In August 2019, we will expand our existing avionics program into an Associate of Science degree in Avionics, again opening up more doors to anyone who is interested in that side of the business. We have also been busy expanding our facilities, recently bringing on board 13,500 square feet of new hangar and classroom space and just embarking on another expansion project to add approximately 15,000 square feet of additional hangar space to grow our avionics and aviation maintenance programs.


ACS: Do you offer any bursaries, scholarships or special entrance options?

BC: The college itself has about 150 scholarships. You fill out one application, and the software determines how many scholarships you’re eligible for depending on the questions you answered. We also have multiple partnerships with local industries that award scholarships to our students. Last year, five students received $10,000 scholarships that allowed them to get one of their pilot ratings paid for. I’d also like to mention that as an open access institution, we accept all students with a high school diploma or its equivalent, such as a GED.


ACS: Do you have any partnerships with notable companies in the industry? If so, can you give us a quick summary?

BC: We have a number of great partners such as Spirit Airlines, Republic Airways, National Jets, Trans States Airlines, Mesa Airlines, Air Wisconsin. Pratt and Whitney, Sikorsky, GA Telesis, AAR, CommericalJet, SkyWest, Tropic Ocean Airways and Silver Airways. These employers hire our pilot graduates, our maintenance graduates, and our aviation business graduates.


ACS: If there was one piece of advice you could give to prospective aviation and aeronautics students, what would it be?

BC: For those who are planning to pursue a career as a pilot, it’s important to put a plan together to complete your flight training in a timely manner. While flight training can be expensive, it has the best return-on-investment for your educational dollar than most other careers, including medicine and law. But without a plan to fully fund your flight training, students run the risk of having to take time off from flight training to build up their financial reserves, during which time they lose flight proficiency and are therefore forced to re-take lessons when they return, which increases their overall cost. There are many different options out there, none of which will typically cover the entire cost of flight training, so it will certainly need to be a combination of different options, from scholarships to grants and loans.


ACS: For Broward College alumni, what’s the most common career path? Private aviation, commercial aviation, military and civil, or a combination of all?

BC: The most common career path for our pilot students is to first become a Certified Flight Instructor and teach the students behind you. Once you build up enough flight experience (as low as 1,000 hours for bachelor’s graduates), you’ll be able to go fly as a First Officer for a regional airline flying jets in the 50-70 seat range. After a couple years, you’ll upgrade to being the Captain of those planes, and then after a few more years, you’ll be competitive to go work for a large airline.


ACS: Lastly, how should students go about applying to Broward College’s aviation school? Any tips for up-and-coming students?

BC: Interested students can apply directly at www.broward.edu. Our aviation recruiter is available to answer any questions, and can be reached by email at aviation@broward.edu or by phone at (954) 201-8087. Additionally, our website with more information about our programs is www.broward.edu/aviation. Anyone who is local to the South Florida area can sign up for one of our tours, which we hold twice each week. You can sign up for the tours at www.broward.edu/aviation.


ACS: Anything else you would like to add about your aviation courses or the industry itself?

BC: There are few career fields as exciting as aviation. The allure of global travel, the seeming magic of jet flight, and the frenetic pace of operations leads to an exciting and rewarding career. We can help prospective students take the first step into the job of their dreams.


Are you looking to start a career in aeronautics or aviation? Speak to us about applying for a course and we’ll do our best to provide some helpful advice. ACS also provides aviation and flying scholarships for many of the best aviation institutions in the U.S. and around the world. Find out more on our Aviation Scholarships and Student Grants page.

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