HUNTINGTON — The Marshall University Board of Governors on Thursday approved the purchase of three airplanes for the new School of Aviation.
The university will purchase two Cirrus SR20 planes and a used single-engine analog airplane.
The Cirrus planes will cost approximately $500,000 each. These planes are ideal for student training, particularly for the whole airplane parachute to safely lower the plane to the ground. It will take about nine months to build the two planes.
The used plane will cost up to $175,000. That plane will be used for initial training of students and to certify students for a spin maneuver.
Both planes will be painted in kelly green and white with the Marshall insignia.
The university has $1.25 million in grants from the Maier Foundation and AEP that can be used toward infrastructure for the School of Aviation, which will be housed mainly at Yeager Airport in Charleston.
The university is working with Yeager Airport to build a hangar for the planes, along with a 10,000-square-foot classroom space that will include a flight simulator. David Pittenger, interim associate vice president for outreach and dean of the Graduate College, said the simulator is in the process of being built.
“It will be a complete recreation of the Cirrus craft we are using,” Pittenger said. “The primary use of the trainer is for teaching instrument flight rules. Basically, students need to learn how to operate the airplane without looking out the window and using the instruments exclusively. It’s a very difficult and time-consuming task, so it’s much more efficient to do it with the trainer.”
Following an executive session, the board approved naming the aviation school the Marshall University Bill Noe Flight School in honor of Marshall alumnus and board member Bill Noe. Noe had a successful career in aviation, starting out as a flight instructor and working his way up to serving as chief operating officer of NetJets Inc., a Columbus, Ohio-based company geared to meeting private air travel needs.
The university is also moving forward with an airplane maintenance program with Mountwest Community and Technical College, which will be housed at the Huntington Tri-State Airport. Marshall President Jerry Gilbert said that partnership is innovative.
In other business, the board also approved changing the name of the College of Information Technology and Engineering to the College of Computer Science and Engineering. The college requested the name change to better articulate the focus of the college.
Currently, the college is defined as focusing on information technology, which is more about installing, maintaining, and improving computer systems, operating networks and databases. Computer science is about using mathematics to program systems to run more efficiently, including design and development. This latter emphasis is more inclusive of computer science, data science, information systems, information technology, internet of things, virtual and augmented reality and cybersecurity. The college has a goal of becoming a regional leader in engineering and computer science education.
The board also approved the creation of a combined Bachelor of Science/Doctor of Philosophy (BS/Ph.D.) program in biomedical research. The goal of the program is to attract the best high school students to Marshall, said Dr. Uma Sundaram, vice dean of research and graduate education for the Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine.
Sundaram said the program is a novel one, with only one other similar program in the nation. Students will begin in the College of Science for undergrad, then finish their Ph.D. in the School of Medicine. Students will not need to take the GRE, a standardized test required for admission to most graduate schools, as long as they maintain a certain GPA. The program will take seven years to complete instead of nine.
The board also approved course changes in the College of Business. Dean Avi Mukherjee said the current catalog was confusing for students and accreditors. The changes don’t delete courses, but rearrange them for clarity and efficiency.