The Right Stuff: Veterans find a new home in MTSU ...

The Right Stuff: Veterans find a new home in MTSU Aerospace program

It’s no surprise that veterans gravitate to MTSU.

The 3,200-square-foot Charlie and Hazel Daniels Veterans and Military Family Center—among the largest such space at any higher education campus in Tennessee—speaks to the University’s tradition of serving those who’ve served.

And it shouldn’t be a surprise that a lot of veterans land in Aerospace’s Pro Pilot program, which has the highest concentration of former military members on campus. They tend to  have what it takes to succeed there.

Colton Gray (’17) came to Pro Pilot in 2014, having served six years in the U.S. Army, including two in Afghanistan. A friend had encouraged him to “check out this little school” called Middle Tennessee State University.

What Gray found was a top-tier flight-training program at a major public university with a personal feel, complemented by the one-on-one support he received as a veteran.

Army veteran and MTSU alumnus Colton Gray, the first pilot nationwide to graduate from the Delta Propel program

“Gen. Keith Huber—he’s the military liaison—helped me navigate the VA and everything else,” Gray said.

With that minor assist, Gray took off. He was the first person in the country to make it through the highly selective Delta Propel program, which puts professional pilot grads on a fast track to a career with the legacy airline.

Aerospace’s newest concentration, Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Operations, also has become popular with student veterans.

In fact, UAS made its remote pilot certificate requirement optional to accommodate the needs of veterans with certain disabilities, said Kevin Corns, who directs the concentration.

It’s a worthwhile adjustment given what someone with military training brings to the table.

Corns said he recently placed two “very sharp veterans” as interns with an engineering company just getting into UAS. In no time they were writing the company’s flight operations manual, had been retained part time, and had project manager jobs waiting for them after graduation.

Whether it’s skill set or mindset, veterans clearly have the right stuff for Aerospace.