UNIVERSITY OF HAWAII AT HILO PLANS AERONAUTICAL PROGRAM
The University of Hawaii at Hilo has been cleared to launch a four-year degree program in aeronautical science.
The university’s board of regents approved last month the provisional Bachelor of Science in two new concentrations: Commercial professional pilot training and commercial aerial information technology, the Hawaii TribuneHerald reported this week.
The pilot training track would lead students to a commercial airline career, providing a pathway to earn all required Federal Aviation Administration licenses and certificates, according to university documents.
The second track will focus on work with drones. The program would guide students in understanding how drones can be used, the type of sensors they have, and the kinds of data they collect and process, said Ken Hon, interim vice chancellor for academic affairs.
The data collection and processing aspects of the program would direct students to “a much higher level of jobs than being a drone pilot,” he said.
“You don’t have to be really great with a crystal ball to look out and see what the future is going to be with these unmanned aircraft, because the military is already there,” Hon said.
Efforts to add an aviation program to the Hilo campus began in 2012, Hon said. A board committee postponed a decision on creating a program in early 2017.
The university has estimated that 20 students will enroll in the pilot training track and 10 in the aerial information technology track for each academic year starting in 2020. The university expects to hire about three people for the program.