Launching a New High School Aerospace Institute

The College of Aviation at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University’s Daytona Beach Campus has partnered with Rockford Public Schools.

February 22, 2013
Manufacturing Group
Education/Training Industry News

The College of Aviation at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University’s Daytona Beach Campus has partnered with Rockford Public Schools in Illinois to establish an Aerospace Institute at Jefferson High School beginning in Fall 2013.

Embry-Riddle’s Aerospace Institute program, also in place in several school districts elsewhere in Illinois and in Florida, gives high school students a collegiate model of aviation and aerospace education to introduce them to high-paying jobs in these career fields. 

“Our community has over 170 companies that are related to the aviation/aeronautics industry,” says David Carson, Director of College and Career Readiness for Rockford Public Schools. “So we have a huge number of job opportunities available for our students and it’s critical to our community that we have the talent pool to fill the needs of all of those companies moving forward.”

Ken Dufour, a Rockford businessman and Embry-Riddle trustee, agrees. “I think it’s a great step for the aerospace community in northern Illinois. It’s a footprint for the future.”

Embry-Riddle’s dual-enrollment program is offered free of charge to high school students, enabling them to earn both high school credit toward graduation and college credit for courses taught by Embry-Riddle professors in their own high school classrooms. Students and parents have the potential to save nearly $40,000 in college tuition costs.

Through its Aerospace Institutes, Embry-Riddle offers more than 29 STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) related courses to high school students in topics such as aeronautical science (professional pilot), aeronautical engineering, homeland security, meteorology, aviation maintenance science, space science and unmanned aircraft systems. 

The new Rockford institute will initially offer two courses. The Principles of Aeronautical Science course will give students a broad-based introduction to aviation history, flight theory, aircraft systems and performance, and flight physiology. In the Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) course, students will learn about the military and commercial history, growth and application of UASs and will build and fly their own radio-controlled models.

“We are absolutely delighted that Rockford Public Schools is joining our team,” says Dr. Leo Murphy, Director of Advanced Placement Programs, Embry-Riddle. “The goal of our program is for our high school students and in particular our first-generation college students to obtain a solid foundation in critical-thinking skills before attending college to complete their degree.”

For more information on Embry-Riddle’s high school Aerospace Institute program, contact Dr. Murphy at (386) 226-7066 or