Students take flight in the aviation study abroad program

Posted: March 30, 2021

Although the Ohio State Airport is home base for aviation students here at Ohio State, central Columbus isn’t the only place those who are enrolled in the study abroad program get to visit. The Aviation Study Abroad program, “International Perspectives on Aviation,” allows students to experience the culture of aviation outside of their home base.

Image of virtual class and street view of London, England.
The class explores London during a virtual tour.

The program has only been active for a few months, but already it has given students the opportunity to see what lies beyond the Ohio State airport. Unfortunately, due to the pandemic, this year’s program can’t physically head overseas. However, students are still getting the experience during the class period, which meets three times per week.

On any given day, students can expect to engage with the global scene through virtual tours or guest speakers. Once, they took a virtual stroll along the Thames, learning about everything from the pubs they passed along the way to Shakespeare and architecture.

Not only are students learning about the cultures of different places around the world, but they’re also getting valuable instruction regarding, as the name suggests, “international perspectives on aviation.”

Here in the United States, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) regulates standardized procedures. Outside of our borders, the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) publishes Standards and Recommended Practices (SARPs), which countries in the United Nations are encouraged to follow.

Students learn how the ICAO standardizes aviation procedures, and how to interact with these procedures. As a result, they’re better prepared for when they pilot an aircraft to another country or interact with colleagues around the world.

In addition to in-class discussions, those who are enrolled in the program get to learn from guest speakers in prestigious positions in influential companies, like British Airways and Airbus. These guest speakers offer invaluable insight into the environment of aviation beyond the borders of the United States.

Matt Dreher, program manager, says that establishing connections with these professionals “may open up career opportunities beyond the traditional domestic jobs that most students are seeking.”

The students, too, are hopeful that this experience will improve their career prospects. First-year aviation student Joseph Nowak says, “this program will be immensely helpful for my future because it gives me another perspective of how aviation is around the world and how it is all so closely tied together.”

He feels that the course has given him a better outlook on his profession while simultaneously being a “really fun and interesting class.”

Image of a map and a man during a virtual class session.
Guest speaker Richard Burnip, of London Walks, shows the class a map of London.

So, what’s in store for the program in the future? Dreher’s got a few ideas. First, the introduction of a Global Competency Certificate, which will prepare students to operate in a culturally different environment. Second, getting the word out there! The program is open to all students, even those without any background in aviation. Dreher is excited to see how people from all majors can bring new perspectives into the program.

Finally, Dreher has something especially exciting in the works: he’s currently solidifying partnerships with universities in Thailand and Canada, and he’s hoping future iterations of the program involve students from all three countries collaborating on a group project, then traveling to meet each other during the trip abroad (with the host country on a rotation).

If you’re interested in international perspectives on aviation – or just international perspectives in general – consider applying for the course! It will be offered every spring semester and is repeatable up to three times.

by Beck Schulz, professional writing intern