Higher Education

WMU introduces MBA aviation concentration

Students will be guided toward management positions in industry.

June 6, 2014
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An MBA with a concentration in aviation is landing at Western Michigan University this fall.

The Haworth College of Business and the College of Aviation at WMU announced the collaboration last week for students interested in management roles in the aviation industry.

Satish Deshpande, associate dean for graduate programs and operations for the Haworth College of Business, said the two colleges received an internal grant to look at how to use existing resources within WMU to meet the needs of the aviation industry.

“We have always been looking for new and innovative concentrations for our MBA students,” said Deshpande. “It’s a collaborative effort between the college of aviation and the school of business. It’s pretty unique; there are not too many programs out there. We think we can really make a niche for ourselves in this area.”

The aviation concentration was designed between the two colleges to teach managerial and operational best practices that were applicable to the industry.

Capt. Dave Powell, dean of the college of aviation, said the MBA concentration enhances students’ opportunities for employment within the dynamic aviation industry and closely related fields.

“Business and aviation are inseparable components of a multitrillion-dollar international industry. As such, aviation is vital to the United States and the global economy,” said Powell in a written statement. “A formal survey and discussions among current and future students revealed a strong demand for such an opportunity to exist at WMU. We have created what we believe will be a joint world-class international graduate program.”

The WMU College of Aviation has been providing aviation education for 75 years since its establishment as a two-year, vocational curriculum in 1939. The college provides undergraduate programs in aviation flight science, aviation management and operations, and aviation maintenance technology.

The collaboration with the business college will allow the opportunity for undergraduate students and individuals in the industry to pursue elective courses in aviation to obtain a concentration specific to aviation in the course of the MBA program.

Upon completing the core requirements within the MBA degree program, students can take three aviation-focused courses: safety management, supply chain, and governance in the global environment. Students will be exposed to case studies related to global aviation in order to teach problem solving skills related to the industry.

“Folks don’t realize the aviation industry is really booming outside of the United States. If you look at Asia or Africa and other places, airlines are expanding and booming big time. A lot of our students in the college of aviation come from abroad and come here to learn to be pilots and mechanics,” said Deshpande. “In addition, to get an MBA in how to actually run those industries, I think if you look at the portfolio of products and services we offer for that industry, I think that will really make us look good.”

The International Air Transport Association, representing approximately 240 airlines globally, released an annual report on June 2 stating airlines improved profitability in 2013 based on factors including increased demand and positive impact on cash flow of industry restructuring.

According to the Montreal, Canada-based IATA, the industry’s net profit after tax in 2013 was $10.6 billion, with a revenue margin of 1.5 percent. Aviation in the United States contributes $1 trillion in economic activity and creates 10 million jobs, while Africa sees $67.8 billion in economic activity and 6.7 million jobs resulting from the industry, according to IATA.

The aviation concentration will be available this fall for the upcoming academic school year, and the colleges are currently working on marketing materials regarding the new addition to the MBA program, according to Deshpande.

“We got into it very carefully, did a lot of research and market analysis,” said Deshpande. “We have done our due diligence and I think it will be a great major. We have been getting a lot of interest from students interested in doing this. I think it will do well.”

The Haworth College of Business was established in 1949 as a business studies department and has an AACSB-accredited MBA program.

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