MURFREESBORO, Tenn. — Middle Tennessee State University renewed Friday its partnership with the Tennessee Wing of Civil Air Patrol, a relationship launched three years ago to benefit aerospace education for state high school students.
Interim Provost Mark Byrnes, the university’s chief academic officer, met with commanders of the U.S. Air Force’s volunteer civilian auxiliary, then signed a three-year extension of the pact that links CAP with MTSU’s Department of Aerospace in the College of Basic and Applied Sciences.
“This relationship has been described as a win-win for Civil Air Patrol and MTSU, and I most certainly concur with that assessment,” Byrnes said. “It allows our Aerospace Department to engage CAP’s cadets and provide these youths with opportunities to connect with our faculty and facilities.”
Col. Barry Melton, commander of CAP’s Southeast Region, and Col. Arlinda Bailey, commander of the 1,000-member Tennessee Wing, signed the pact along with Byrnes. Friday’s ceremony marked the opening of the Tennessee Wing’s annual conference, which MTSU will host on campus this weekend.
Melton, an MTSU graduate who oversees CAP wings in five states, including Tennessee, as well as Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, said he was pleased the partnership with his alma mater continues to grow.
“The relationship we’ve forged with MTSU has become a model for other wings throughout the nation hoping to connect with major universities in their states,” Melton said. “It reinforces the value and opportunities we provide our cadets and it underscores our commitment to aerospace education.”
The university will host Tennessee Wing’s weeklong cadet encampment for the second consecutive year this summer, which attracts about 100 youth between the ages of 12 to 21 and provides leadership training, orientation in MTSU’s Aerospace Department and other campus activities.
Also, new this year, MTSU’s Aerospace and Engineering Technology departments will host the 2017 CAP National Engineering Technology Academy, which will draw cadets from across the nation to the campus.
“MTSU has been a terrific partner and supporter of Tennessee Wing,” Bailey said. “They have helped elevate the volunteer service that we provide to our state and nation.”
Aerospace Department Chair Wendy Beckman singled out four CAP cadets, who were present at Friday’s ceremony, as reinforcement to the value of the partnership.
Two of them, Jack Higdon of Bruceton, Tennessee, and Jonah Torp-Pedersen of Spring Hill, Tennessee, have enrolled at MTSU this fall to study aerospace. The other two, freshman and Buchanan scholar Joshua Brinegar of Columbia, Tennessee, and junior and Army ROTC cadet Joshua Williams of Smyrna, are already enrolled.
“We’re proud to affiliate with an organization that allows us to reach students of this caliber, and we’re happy when they decide to attend our university,” Beckman said.
MTSU Aerospace, one of the nation’s largest collegiate aviation programs, has 14 full-time faculty members, 35 flight instructors and an enrollment of about 750 students.
Civil Air Patrol, founded just days before the start of World War II in 1941, has more than 60,000 volunteer members. The organization was chartered by Congress to support the Air Force and is best known for its aerial search and rescue missions, cadet program and commitment to aerospace education.
MTSU’s close ties with CAP stretch back to July 1948, the year CAP’s Middle Tennessee State College Squadron was organized (MTSU’s Aerospace Department was six years old at the time). Based at the old College Airport, the squadron was comprised of pilots trained on campus and was recognized for its search-and-rescue work. It operated on campus until 1953.