Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University's Gaetz Aerospace Institute has announced a partnership with the Air Force Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (JROTC) to begin providing duel-enrollment college credit in Florida at high schools where the Air Force branch of the JROTC has a unit. The goal is to expand this program nationwide and eventually to Air Force JROTC unit around the world.

“Both military and commercial aviation are experiencing a shortage of young qualified pilots and unmanned aircraft vehicle (UAV) operators,” said Michael Wetzel, Academic Credit Liaison and DE Safety Representative with the U.S. Air Force’s Holm Center Academic Affairs Directorate. “This is an opportunity to attract Air Force JROTC cadets to the field of aviation through Embry-Riddle’s ground school and small UAS certification programs, with the hope of getting high school cadets interested in an aviation career while becoming young leaders in their communities and for our country.”

The Gaetz Aerospace Institute offers tuition-free college credit in courses focusing on growing industries including aviation, unmanned systems, aerospace, engineering, computers and business. Over 3,000 high school students in Florida have or are currently participating in the program.

Of the 73 JROTC programs in the state of Florida, 10 schools in nine school districts will take part in the tuition-free duel enrollment pilot program for the fall 2017-2018 semester.

“Our hope is to expand our program into schools/school districts nationwide one we achieve success in Florida,” said Colleen Walsh-Conklin, Executive Director of the Gaetz Aerospace Institute at Embry Riddle.  “Because many of the instructors working with high school Air Force JROTC units already come with the qualifications and requirements to teach our coursework as adjunct professors, the program will have a fast start in Florida with the potential to grow quickly across the country.”

Five courses will be offered for credit, all of which focus on aeronautical science, pilot operations or unmanned aircrafts and systems.