Elizabeth City State University (ECSU), home to the second largest U.S. Coast Guard Aviation Base, is working to train the next generation of aviators through an agreement with the Coast Guard.
Last month, Elizabeth City approved two agreements: One for a new partnership that offers students at three North Carolina community colleges the ability to transfer and continue their degree at a four-year institution and another that focuses on a current relationship with the U.S. Coast Guard in which the school trains future service members to become Coast Guard pilots.
“At the end of this program [with the Coast Guard] they can go to Officer Candidate School so it’s essentially a guaranteed job,” said Elizabeth City aviation science program director Dr. Kuldeep Rawat.
The partnership program, College Student Pre-Commissioning Initiative (CSPI), has been in effect for several years. CSPI focuses on juniors and seniors at ECSU who are interested in enlisting. Under the program, the Coast Guard covers the student’s tuition while they complete a bachelor’s degree in aviation science, according to CBS-affiliate station WTKR.
The latest aspect of the program will also focus on drone piloting, Rawat said.
“The Coast Guard has recently acquired a lot of small, unmanned aircraft systems (drones),” Rawat said. “So, if people train in them here, it will be easier once they get to the Coast Guard.”
Drone piloting is currently a part of ECSU’s aviation program, but beginning in the fall 2019, students will be able to earn a degree in drone aviation. Students from Guilford Technical, Lenoir and Sandhills community colleges will also be able to pursue the degree program, under the new partnership.
Elizabeth City is the only four-year aviation program in North Carolina and the partnership will help community college students easily transfer to ECSU to complete their bachelor’s degree after finishing the required courses at the community colleges.