DULUTH, MN — A new transfer agreement between Lake Superior College and Minnesota State University Mankato (MSUM) will help students become professional commercial pilots in four years or less.
LSC officials say students can begin their career in the two-year program at LSC, and then receive a four-year degree at MSUM. School officials say it’s the only accredited four-year aviation program in the state and is one of fewer than 40 institutions across the country accredited for aviation.
Daniel Fanning the Vice President of External Relations says, “What we’re doing is essentially combining those programs to make our students in the pilot program have a smooth and easy transition and transfer agreement. So if they want to go on and work for a commercial pilot.”
Freshman Cody Johnson says, “It’s a lot less stress for us to try and go and find other places that would accept the 60 credits that we get here at LSC.”
According to LSC officials, the school has experienced an enrollment increase of 31% in the professional pilot program this year, and the maintenance program is up 52%.
During the ceremony Friday morning, LSC President Dr. Patricia Rodgers said there is a “tremendous amount of pressure to graduate more pilots from the school”, due to a pilot shortage in the aviation industry.
Fanning says, “There currently is a need for pilots but then they’re anticipating in the near future there’s going to be an even bigger need for pilots because there are so many retirements that are coming up soon.”
Rodgers said the school is preparing to be a destination program and Duluth is becoming an aviation hub, with many students being hired right out of the program, or even before they graduate.
Officials with both schools signed the transfer agreement during a ceremony on Friday morning.
Lake Superior College officials say many of the pilots retiring are baby boomers.
According to airline industry studies by 2035, there will be 790,000 pilot and maintenance technician job openings.
You can watch the full news conference below.