High Flying Scholarship

The new aerospace studies minor prepares students for aviation careers

Baylor students wanting to launch a career in the sky need look no further than the new Aerospace Studies minor in the College of Arts & Sciences. The program is designed primarily for cadets in Baylor’s Air Force and Space Force Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC), but it’s also valuable to any student interested in a career in aviation or aerospace.

Lt. Col. Kenneth Sterling, commander of Baylor’s Detachment 810 Air and Space Force ROTC and chair of aerospace studies, said a significant number of ROTC programs across the nation have an aerospace studies minor. While the curriculums of most of those programs focus only on aerospace courses, Baylor’s aerospace studies minor includes course selections from both aviation science and political science.

“We decided to go with a curriculum that provides enhanced value based on what we can expect our cadets to do in their future military careers,” Sterling said. “The building blocks of the aerospace studies minor are the Air Force courses. The aviation and political sciences courses are meant to provide a broader worldview and context for what students are going to be doing anywhere from the next four, six or 20 years of their careers, depending on how long they stay in the Air Force.”

Learning Fundamentals

Baylor’s 22-semester-hour aerospace studies minor includes 16 hours of ROTC courses that cover Air Force heritage and values, teamwork, and leadership fundamentals. The four primary courses to choose from in political science include: Contemporary American Foreign Policy: An Examination of Regions and Issues; Making American Foreign Policy; The Causes of War; and Politics, Games, and Strategy. And the four courses from aviation sciences are: Introduction to Aviation; Aircraft Accident Investigation and Prevention; Aviation Safety; and Aviation Leadership and Management.

Air and Space Force ROTC cadets, of which there are approximately 60 to 75 on campus each semester, are the primary targets for the minor, since they are required to take the ROTC core courses. The additional courses will complement both the ROTC curriculum and a wide variety of majors, Sterling said.

“We reside within the College of Arts & Sciences, but we’ve got cadets in nursing, business, law and a variety of other schools,” he said. “We’ve got cadets majoring in chemistry, biochemistry, statistics and engineering. I really think the new minor pairs well with a variety of degrees.”

Partnering with the AFROTC in providing for the minor is the Baylor Institute for Air Science (BIAS), which offers full degrees with majors in aviation sciences for students who want to be pilots, as well as majors in aviation administration for those interested in the business and management side of the aviation industry.

New Experiences

Dr. Trey Cade, BIAS director and a 22-year Air Force veteran, said the courses offered by the Institute to fill out the minor will add new experiences.

“They will be getting a broader exposure to different topics from the aviation industry than most students at other schools going through ROTC, so that will definitely be a unique benefit for them,” he said. “We’re offering some business sense and some insight into the operational aspects of aviation that aren’t necessarily military specific, but will apply to the aviation industry in general.”

Sterling said the addition of political science courses was prompted by the Air Force’s emphasis on advanced studies for its officers and influenced by his own experience.

“When I was getting my first master’s degree, I chose international relations because I knew I was going to be around the world in a variety of different places,” he said.

The new is also valuable to students who are not in ROTC, but are interested in working for the government — such as the U.S. Department of Defense, which Sterling estimates has some 700,000 civilian employees.

“This is something that would benefit those folks as well, to go and be able to say, ‘I understand a little bit about aviation, I understand a little bit about international relations, and now I can apply to work at the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, for instance, or the Central Intelligence Agency,’” Sterling said.