BRIDGEPORT, W.Va. — Fairmont State University and West Virginia University Institute of Technology are making aviation history in the Mountain State with a new partnership.

Provosts from the two institutions met at the Robert C. Byrd National Aerospace Education Center in Bridgeport to sign a consortial educational agreement Wednesday morning that will allow aviation students from both institutions the ability to take classes from either program in order to complete their degree.

“I think it’s the first step in creating a aviation center in West Virginia, where flight instruction that is college-based flight instruction is going to occur in Bridgeport, West Virginia at this facility,” said Fairmont State Provost Dr. Richard Harvey.

WVU Tech Provost Dr. Joan Neff said it’s a tremendous opportunity for WVUIT students.

“It’s an opportunity for us to partner and have resources to us that we don’t necessarily have in exchange for providing resources to Fairmont State that they don’t necessarily have,” Neff said.

The Bachelor of Science in aviation management program at WVUIT is an online program, meaning that FSU students could add courses in aviation management to their skillset without leaving the Fairmont campus.

“What we hope to take advantage of is most of their curriculum is online, so some of our students could take advantage of online course offerings,” Harvey said. “It’s a win-win. It’s a nice marriage of both programs.”

Similarly, WVU Tech students can then take on-campus classes at Fairmont State, so that they graduate with not only knowledge of aviation management but also having the ability to fly a plane, Neff said.

“So it’s an opportunity for them to build a skillset that’s going to double what they might have otherwise, and I think that’s a great partnership,” she said.

Harvey said while this is the state’s first partnership of its kind, he hopes to establish similar relationships with other institutions in the future.

“We know there are other universities that are considering flight programs because of the demand for pilots, both commercial and military, so we hope that as other schools consider starting a program that they would look to us for the flight portion of the program,” he said. “We’re already here. We’re already established. We have the chief pilot. We have the planes. We have the FAA designation. We’re ready to go.”

Neff is already looking forward to seeing how WVU Tech’s students put the opportunity to use and what the future may hold for both institutions working together.

“I think the opportunity for our students on both sides on both campuses is really fantastic,” she said. “It’s a good example of how when we partner, work together and collaborate, we can have something more than if we’re each trying to develop different programs on our own.”

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