MTSU sees record-breaking aerospace program enrollment amid booming industry demand

MTSU aerospace program
Posted at 7:56 PM, Feb 09, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-10 09:29:51-05

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. (WTVF) — Since 2016, MTSU's aerospace program has seen record-breaking enrollment. Now the booming demand has the school looking to expand.

MTSU Senior Evan Schultz said it was the fast-track program that made him enroll at the school.

"Right now is the boom. If you have any hesitation jump in, and this is the best place to do it," he said. "I mean I got a job offer before I'm graduating out of college with an airline — that's almost unheard of."

MTSU President Sidney McPhee said the industry demand is dire. Many pilots were offered early retirements at the start of the pandemic, leaving a void today.

"Flight training aviation fields are very expensive," McPhee said. "However, as a state institution compared with say an Embry-Riddle, or some other private institution, MTSU is very affordable".

Airlines are also adding more flights as demand for travel increases.

"As the university has grown and the aviation program has grown, it has put some pressure and challenge in terms of just capacity," McPhee said.

That's why the program is looking to expand.

A $62 million proposal for state funding could mean relocating the program from Murfreesboro to the Shelbyville Municipal Airport.

"The impact of that many students and that type of capital investment being made- when you factor all of that in you're probably talking somewhere between one, two times the multiplier back when it comes to jobs so it would be a great impact to our area," said Shane Hooper, president and CEO of the Shelbyville-Bedford Partnership.

The proposal is still awaiting approval from the state legislature, but enrollment is only expected to take off.

"There are a lot of related companies in the aviation world that probably will begin looking at Tennessee because we are producing the professionals in that industry to help them grow as we grow," McPhee said.