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Eglin Air Force Base

Flight Test Engineering Course at Eglin AFB Deemed a Success

First Graduate Short Course
Conducted in May 

MELBOURNE, FLA. — Florida Institute of Technology just completed a graduate short course in Fixed-Wing Airplane Performance Flight Test Engineering at Eglin Air Force Base, Florida.

The short course was conducted as part of the Eglin Academy from May 7-25. The first seven days consisted of flying labs and academic lectures. The focus of the remaining days was online completion of lab reports.

Flight test engineering is a discipline focused on evaluation of both new aviation platforms and modifications of existing aircraft. The short course examines flight test engineering techniques to determine airplane performance. It includes actual flights in a Florida Tech Cherokee Six aircraft for data collection by students. The short course presents data analysis and interpretation methods, and uses airplane performance theory to develop the equations necessary to standardize flight test data.

The Florida Tech instructor was Ralph Kimberlin. Kimberlin is no stranger to Eglin, as one of his first active-duty assignments was at the Northwest Florida base. The short course was based on Kimberlin’s textbook, Flight Testing of Fixed-Wing Aircraft.

The first Eglin students for this short course were Air Force officers, an Air Force civilian engineer and flight test engineers from Gulfstream Aerospace Corporation. The course was offered as continuing education for academic credit. As a result, credits can transfer into either the Florida Tech Certificate program or the Master of Science in Flight Test Engineering (MS FTE).

“It is a huge win for the Eglin AFB community to have a world-class flying short course operating off of our flight line. The time and cost savings over having to travel to remote sites for this training are significant,” said Nathan Cook, chief test engineer of the 40th Flight Test Squadron. “Furthermore, the potential for a future degree program here at Eglin presents a great opportunity to allow our test engineers to dive deeper into the flight test discipline and satisfy important career milestones at the same time.”

The MS FTE seeks to expand students’ knowledge, skills, ability and competency in the field of aircraft flight testing. Courses provide advanced graduate instruction in fundamental disciplines pertinent to the flight test engineer, such as structural dynamics, propulsion, aerodynamics, stability and control, signal processing, radar, communications, and engineering project management. Additionally, the program teaches students how to test and evaluate an aircraft’s mechanical and electrical subsystems including propulsion, structure and avionics.

The MS FTE is currently offered at Florida Tech’s main campus in Melbourne, Florida, and at the university’s Extended Studies Site in Patuxent, Maryland. According to Florida Tech Eglin Site Director Jeff Cerny, the MS FTE is on track to be offered on Eglin starting in Fall 2018.

Additional information may be available by contacting Cerny at jcerny@fit.edu.

According to Brian Kish, Florida Tech FTE program chair and former U.S. Air Force Test Pilot School instructor, graduates with a MS FTE can choose career opportunities in several industries, including the military, defense and private-sector aviation manufacturing, as well as government agencies such as the Federal Aviation Administration and NASA.

The MS FTE is a 30-credit-hour program. The cost is $600 per credit hour, plus lab fees for the flying courses to pay for fuel, maintenance and pilot fees. Florida Tech offers Wisdom Warrior discount rates for active military for non-flying courses. Nine hours of the program are flying labs (such as the just completed three-hour short course). Veterans’ benefits are also accepted.

Additional information is available by clicking here.

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