George Mason University
George Mason University Mason
George Mason University

Volgenau School Offers Minors in Mechanical Engineering, Aviation Flight Training

November 21, 2013

Have you ever wondered how roller coasters make so many loops around and around or how planes that weigh thousands of pounds can sail through the skies? Or maybe you want to be in the pilot's seat yourself. Now, with the addition of two new minors in George Mason University's Volgenau School of Engineering, you can do both.
Beginning in fall 2013, students across the university will be able to minor in mechanical engineering or aviation flight training and management. The new minors come at a time when impending shortages in the fields have put these vital positions in high demand.
"As both the mechanical engineering and aviation fields continue to grow at a rapid pace, it is imperative that we offer our students the necessary skills and resources to excel in these areas," says Ken Ball, dean of the Volgenau School.
Mechanical Engineering
Often considered the broadest of the engineering disciplines, mechanical engineers have a hand in almost every aspect of technology — from household appliances to automobiles to spacecraft. Specifically, mechanical engineers design, build and analyze complex devices, systems and processes that involve converting energy from one form to another, the production of work and transporting energy and mass from one location to another.
Students will choose from one of two major concentrations in the field: mechanical systems or thermal fluid systems. Some of the concepts students will learn in these areas include alternative energy and sustainability, nanotechnology, rapid prototyping and robotics.
"The mechanical engineering minor will help students understand the science behind machines and the energy that makes them work," says Ball. "They will also be able to see how these concepts relate to real life and will learn the skills to create the next generation of complex machines."
Aviation Flight Training and Management
Students who choose to pursue a minor in aviation flight training and management will have the opportunity to learn about the multifaceted and dynamic aviation industry which involves the interaction with, management of and operation of aircraft.
The minor also provides students with a unique opportunity to earn a pilot's license and gain expertise in various aspects of aviation management. The combination of these assets will put students seeking employment with airlines, airports or air traffic control at a competitive advantage, says Lance Sherry, associate professor of systems engineering and operations research and director of the Center for Air Transportation Systems Research.
"If you look at forecasts for the aviation industry, there is an increasing demand for employees with specialized skills," says Sherry. "This new minor will give students the necessary skills and knowledge to thrive in a growing industry that relies on a competent and trained workforce to manage the technologically-advanced control and vehicle systems."
Students pursuing this minor will take classes at a pilot ground school in Manassas, Va. Additional classes in flight training will prepare students for solo and cross-country flights. Students also will study various aspects of aviation, including system engineering of air traffic control, human factors and psychology and financial planning and management.
More information about the mechanical engineering and aviation flight training minors can be found on the website.
A version of this story appeared on Mason's Newsdesk March 18, 2013.
Write to Catherine Probst at