Standing beneath the airplanes as they came in for landing, the roar of the engine and the size of the airplane had 3-year-old Kodye Shier hooked. He said it was then he knew he wanted to fly.
Now, at 22, Shier has already made his dream come true – he graduated from Fox Valley Technical College with a degree in aviation in 2011 – and is a pilot rated for commercial single and multi-engine land and airplane instruments. He can fly.
But that isn’t stopping Shier from wanting to learn more.
In spring 2012, Shier will began his aviation-focused coursework at the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh to earn a bachelor’s degree. The coursework is part of a new agreement between UW Oshkosh and FVTC that allows students in aeronautics pilot training and aircraft electronics programs at FVTC to transfer credits into a UWO aviation management emphasis. The agreement was solidified with signatures from UW Oshkosh Chancellor Richard H. Wells and FVTC President Susan May July 12; the signing appropriately took place at the Experimental Aircraft Association Museum in Oshkosh.
The agreement between the two institutions presents a package to students not available through traditional, four-year flight schools.
“The UW Oshkosh program is 100 percent online, so I can gain flight hours while I work and I can earn my bachelor’s degree at the same time,” Shier said.
In addition to the online format, for Shier, the decision to attend UW Oshkosh was largely based on cost and the ability to transfer his credits.
“Other schools are a lot more expensive, and at FVTC they offer the same thing, if not more,” Shier said. “You actually get more ratings at FVTC, and the fact that they have the transfer agreement with UW Oshkosh really saves a lot on cost.”
Shier is currently enrolled in the Leadership and Organizational Studies online bachelor’s degree program at UW Oshkosh, and said he wants to enroll in the aviation management emphasis.
“I plan to take the aviation emphasis because I have such a drive for aviation,” Shier said. “It is easier to go to school for something that you really want — it makes retaining information a lot easier.”
The transition from hands-on classroom learning to online learning was an adjustment for Shier, but he said his instructors were very flexible and easy to work with.
Shier continues to work full-time as a flight instructor intern while taking classes, which he said has challenged him mentally, but it wasn’t more than he could handle.
“I’ve talked to a lot of pilots who went through the FVTC aviation program and they said there is a lot of downtime in the hotels when you’re flying for work,” Shier said. “What else are you going to do besides schoolwork — you’ve got to keep yourself busy.”
After Shier completes his bachelor’s degree, he hopes to continue in his career path as a pilot.
“The main reason I chose to go on for my bachelor’s degree is I want to work for a legacy airline, such as Delta or Southwest airlines. They require a bachelor’s degree,” Shier said.
While a bachelor’s degree isn’t required to become a pilot, most companies are using it as another way to filter their applicants, according to Shier.
As he continues to work toward his goal of working for a legacy airline, Shier said it means a lot to him to be able to show people how close he is.
“There were people who didn’t believe me when I said I wanted to go to school to be a pilot,” Shier said. “So, it’s pretty cool to go back home and show my friends that I am achieving my goals and living my dream.”
- For more information on the aviation management program at UW Oshkosh, visit uwosh.edu/go/aviation or call (800) UWO-INFO.
- For more information on the pilot and aviation programs at FVTC, visit fvtc.edu/pilot.