professor helping student during lab
UH Hilo instructor Roberto Rodriguez (left) helps student prepare for drone field practice during a lab session.

A new aeronautical sciences degree program at the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo was approved by the UH Board of Regents.

The provisional bachelor of science program has two concentrations, one in commercial professional pilot training, and another in commercial aerial information technology (which utilizes drones), where there is a high projected workforce need in the state.

The new program will integrate aeronautical sciences with UH Hilo’s existing STEM programs in general education, agriculture, conservation biology, natural hazards, marine and terrestrial resources, astronomy and geographic information systems, education and research.

“The commercial professional pilot training track places graduates on a solid footing to pursue a career as an airline pilot at a much more reasonable total educational cost than if they attended a mainland university with a similar program,” said Bruce Mathews, dean of the College of Agriculture, Forestry and Natural Resources Management. “Due to the increasing demand for pilots resulting from a high proportion now entering retirement age, coupled with rising air travel globally, the prospects for rewarding career opportunities are high.”

The program aligns with current professional programs at UH Hilo that prepare students for the workforce by providing a degree pathway to commercial aviation. The university has already established a certificate program in unmanned aircraft systems (drone technology), which was launched last year as a first step toward the aeronautical sciences program.

The proposed program also aligns with UH Hilo’s focus on the application of science using tools for information development including geographical information systems, data visualization and data science.

The program will add to UH Hilo students’ toolkit for data collection, information creation and information communication, and strengthen both undergraduate and graduate research across those fields.

Read the full story at UH Hilo Stories.

—By Susan Enright