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Aviation Is Back At SCSU?
by Silence Dogood

The SCTimes on April 15, 2015, published an article: “SCSU engineers fly into new territory.” The following image from the article captures the essence of the story.

The picture shows Dr. Andy Bekkala and five mechanical engineering students who are working on their senior project. The article stated that it is “the first time that the college has entered the aerial division.”

According to the article “None of us have any experience building or doing anything with planes,” said team member Blake Torfin. “We do now, but we really had to research how a plane worked when we first started.”

The SAE Aero Design® Series—West competition was held April 24-26, 2015 in Van Nuys, CA. In looking up the results for SCSU, for a first-time competing, it probably was a good effort. The “Flying Huskies” were listed three times in the results:

Regular Class MAX Payload: 24th out of 41 (0.000 lbs)

Regular Class Design Results: 36th out of 41 (30.3889)

Regular Class Presentation Results 30th out of 41 (30.4000)

If I missed something in the results, I apologize in advance.

In May 2014, the Aviation program at St. Cloud State University officially closed. One is left only to wonder whether or not the experience of the aviation faculty might have been able to provide resources to the students, which might have allowed the students to achieve a higher ranking. However, it certainly seems that the recent growth in the use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), known in the mainstream as drones, certainly could have justified the ‘restructuring’ of the aviation rather than its closure. Even the expansion of Camp Ripley near Little Falls to accommodate drones alone might have given additional justification for maintaining a program that President Earl Potter once described as “being on the national radar.”

Faced with declining enrollments and a budget deficit over $12,000,000 for FY16, President Potter has said repeatedly stated that “we can’t cut ourselves out of financial difficulty—we have to grow our programs.” Given the growth in the demand for trained drone pilots both in the military and soon commercially, it seems a shame that this was an ‘opportunity lost.’

A pessimist is one who makes difficulties of his opportunities and an optimist is one who makes opportunities of his difficulties.

Harry S. Truman

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