HBCUs Work to Diversify Aviation Field
Less than 2 percent of the nation’s 75,000 working commercial pilots are minorities, according to a report by the Organization of Black Airline Pilots, and women accounted for only 4 percent of pilots during 2001, the Federal Aviation Administration reports.
To combat this disparity, five historically Black colleges — Hampton University, Delaware State University, Florida Memorial College, Tennessee State University and Texas Southern University — are teaming up with Western Michigan University’s College of Aviation in the Diversity in Aviation consortium to diversify the nation’s aviation work force.
“We reached the conclusion that the reason for this imbalance was because minority youngsters didn’t see professional aviation as an attainable career path,” said Ret. Capt. Darryl Stubbs, an associate professor of aviation at Hampton University. “The low percentages are unlikely to change without a dramatic and aggressive initiative to get the numbers up to the critical mass required for sustainability.”
Through awareness programs geared toward youth and parents, the consortium aims to inform minorities about the viability of an aviation career. Member schools will create scholarships and fellowships to provide access to education programs to prepare students for careers in aviation. The consortium will use a variety of tools, including faculty and student mentoring, exchange programs between consortium members and coordination among members’ academic program resources and delivery systems.
“The opportunities for employment within the industry are tremendous and trying to get young people to recognize aviation as a career field is very important, not only to the industry but to the nation,” said Karl Minter, vice president of the Organization of Black Airline Pilots, which will play an advisory role to the consortium. “It’s important to have a work force that mirrors the community and the public that we serve.”
“We need to inform and we need resources,” Stubbs said. “By having a consortium, our strength in numbers will give us a much better chance of achieving our collective goals.”
© Copyright 2005 by DiverseEducation.com