MSU Skyrockets to Greater Education for Aviation and Aerospace


Posted Wed, Dec 2, 2015

Aircraft Model in World Indoor Airport [Photo: Kavann Tok]

Up! Up! And Away!: Aircraft Model in World Indoor Airport [Photo: Kavann Tok]

DENVER, Auraria Campus — The Department of Aviation and Aerospace offers a bachelor’s degree for students who want to learn how to fly, both metaphorically and literally. Students obtain leadership and lifelong skills as they are taught to fly aircrafts in order to become the future reliable source for travel. One of the many problems is that these skills don’t come cheap, resulting in a deep decline of pilots and technicians in the workforce.

“After earning a bachelor’s degree, students are required to get at least 1500 hours of fly time before they can become a pilot,” explains Professor Tanya Gatlin, MSU’s head coach of precision flight team. “The price is estimated to be anywhere from $80,000 – $100,000 for lessons.”

Gatlin also felt that at least 30,000 more pilots are needed today. Professor Kevin Kuhlmann, associate chairman, adds that the workforce is looking for technicians to work on the maintenance side of aviation.

Professor Tanya Gatlin, Head Coach of Precision Flight Team [Picture Provided by Professor Tanya Gatlin]

Professor Tanya Gatlin, Head Coach of Precision Flight Team [Picture Provided by Professor Tanya Gatlin]

“MSU doesn’t deal with that specifically; more on the operations side at MSU,” says Professor Kuhlmann. “Another reason for the decline is due to the changes in regulations that the Federal Aviation Administration made in regards to hiring. It never used to be like that. For example, students now have to start off as a flight instructor before moving on to getting hired at a smaller or bigger airline. It just takes longer to get hired than before and more steps to get there.”

Beginning of a Solution

To defeat the staggering decline of pilots and technicians, MSU has devised a new plan to make its students more competitive in the working field. Stephen M. Jordan, president of MSU, addressed these changes in the article, “Colorado’s Workforce Paradox” for SpaceNews.

“Metropolitan State University of Denver partnered with industry leaders from Lockheed Martin, Sierra Nevada Corp. and other advanced manufacturing companies to design an aerospace and engineering science curriculum that will meet the workforce needs of industry,” writes Jordan. “Lockheed Martin and other industry leaders provided sage advice on what they want and what they are not seeing in Colorado graduates. They want future employees who not only know the technical aspects of the job but who also have soft skills — communication, leadership and the ability to work collaboratively with team members day to day.”

Professor Kevin Kuhlmann, Associate Chairman [Photo: Kavann Tok]

Professor Kevin Kuhlmann, Associate Chairman [Photo: Kavann Tok]

By 2017, a new building will comprise of Aerospace studies alongside Engineering Sciences due to these new, exciting developments. It will be located at the corner of Auraria Parkway and Seventh Street.

Resources at MSU’s Department of Aviation and Aerospace

MSU’s website for the department maintains that students seeking a degree have a number of valuable resources to Colorado’s aviation and/or aerospace industry, the department’s world indoor airport laboratories, precision flight team, top flight schools and several major and regional airports.

“There are new courses focused on aerospace systems and commercial space business/opportunities,” adds Dr. Jeffrey Forrest, department chairman. “Upgraded airline in-doc classes — advanced jet training, and newly developed classes in UAV / UAS flight operations.”

The four main degrees offered by the department are Airport Management, Aerospace, Aviation as a Pilot and Air Traffic Control.

Screen Shot 2015-12-01 at 5.48.18 PMAdvice for Students

To encourage students, Dr. Forrest said not to fret.

“Follow your passion, and don’t force the future. It will come,” Forrest says. “You may have to pull years doing something you may not have preferred, but who hasn’t in life? When starting out, consider all opportunities, and constantly scan the literature and news for possibilities — they are there, if you are motivated!”

Professor Gatlin describes the field as “amazing.”

“I’ve done it my whole life,” she explains. “Just find the cheapest way to get it done. People get hung up on the cost, but find the money to get it done.”

For more information, visit

About Kavann Tok

Kavann Tok is a freelance Denver-area journalist. Website:

View all posts by Kavann Tok

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