College Park provides education opportunities in aviation

College Park was full of opportunities this week during EAA AirVenture. In between exhibits and air shows, people interested in an aviation career could talk with colleges and organizers at College Park.

Schools from all over the country made the trip to Oshkosh in hopes of spreading the word and recruiting those pursuing a career in aviation.

University of Wisconsin Oshkosh has an online program and made themselves available at College Park for anyone interested.

“We see a lot of parents and kids, students looking for a career change and high schoolers trying to figure out how to get a four-year degree in aviation,” says Sarah Smith, program manager. “We’re a degree completion program, so students can go ahead and get a job anywhere in the world.”

Set up right next to UW-Oshkosh was Fox Valley Technical College, which is where students can take the first step in their aviation education.



UW-Oshkosh teams up with Fox Valley Technical College in providing education. Students pursuing a career in aviation at Fox Valley can transfer to UW-Oshkosh’s program after completing two years.That’s what Ashwin van den Aarssen did, who is now an instructor at Fox Valley.

“We teach you exactly the skills you need,” says Aarssen “Before I started at Fox Valley, I had not seen a small plane up close. Now, I teach people how to fly.”

Fox Valley Technical College is where students gain hands-on experience, no matter how much previous experience they have.

UW-Oshkosh and Fox Valley Technical College were joined by other big name colleges such as the University of Michigan, Arizona State and Ohio State.

Having that many colleges and people interested in aviation in one area provided a good opportunity for SAFE, Society of Aviation and Flight Educators, which assists instructors and teachers in education.

“If you want to do something to get kids excited about aviation, we provide ideas and material to help you with that,” says Chairman John Dorcey.

Aviation educators can receive support, curriculum and mentoring through SAFE.

SAFE helps instructors and educators gain knowledge about aviation, so it can be passed down to students studying aviation.

“We act as a support mechanism and a resource for educators of all levels,” says Dorcey. “We focus on K-12, technical schools and college instructors. That’s why we are here in College Park. Our member potential is everyone here.”

Organizations like SAFE and colleges, such as Fox Valley Technical College spent their time in College Park trying to get the word out to anyone interested.

Teachers, students, high schoolers and even younger kids had plenty to check out at College Park.

Even if you don’t have an interest in pursuing an aviation career, you could still pretend to be a pilot for a few seconds and have a picture to always remember.

Alex EAA plane

Attendees could experience what it’s like to be a pilot, by jumping into a fighter jet. People either took selfies inside the jet or had a volunteer take their photo.The hashtag #EAASelfie was used to create buzz about all the festivities taking place at EAA AirVenture and College Park.

For more information about the final day of EAA AirVenture and College Park activities, visit

— By Alex Olp

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