Embry-Riddle Partners with Air Force Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps to Begin Training the Next Generation of Pilots

The Air Force Junior Reserve Officers Corps Insignia

Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University’s Gaetz Aerospace Institute has announced a partnership with the Air Force Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (JROTC) to begin providing dual-enrollment college credit coursework in Florida at high schools where the Air Force branch of the JROTC has a unit. The goal is to expand this program nationwide and eventually to Air Force JROTC units around the world.

The Gaetz Aerospace Institute – a STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) dual-enrollment education program – offers tuition-free college credits and hands-on experience in university level courses focusing on growing industries including aviation, unmanned systems, aerospace, engineering, computers and business. Over 3,000 high school students in Florida have already or are currently participating in the program through their school district’s career academies.

There are 73 Air Force JROTC programs in high schools across the state. Ten schools in nine different school districts will take part in the tuition-free dual enrollment pilot program for the fall 2017-2018 semester:

  • Jefferson High School – Hillsborough County
  • Vero Beach High School – Indian River County
  • Ocoee High School – Orange County
  • Timber Creek High School – Orange County
  • Osceola High School – Osceola County
  • Lake Worth High School – Palm Beach County
  • Treasure Coast High School – St. Lucie County
  • Lake Brantley High School Seminole County
  • Eustis High School – Lake County
  • Northeast High School – Broward County

“Air Force JROTC is excited about the opportunity to establish an education partnership with Embry Riddle,” said Michael Wetzel, Academic Credit Liaison and DE Safety Representative with the U.S. Air Force’s Holm Center Academic Affairs Directorate. “Both military and commercial aviation are experiencing a shortage of young qualified pilots and unmanned aircraft vehicle (UAV) operators. This is an opportunity to attract Air Force JROTC cadets to the field of aviation through Embry-Riddle’s ground school and small UAS certification programs, with the hope of getting high school cadets interested in an aviation career while becoming young leaders in their communities and for our country.”

“Our hope is to expand our program into schools/school districts nationwide one we achieve success in Florida,” said Colleen Walsh-Conklin, Executive Director of the Gaetz Aerospace Institute at Embry Riddle.  “Because many of the instructors working with high school Air Force JROTC units already come with the qualifications and requirements to teach our coursework as adjunct professors, the program will have a fast start in Florida with the potential to grow quickly across the country.”

The Gaetz Aerospace Institute college level courses offered this fall semester include:

 Principles of Aeronautical Science

3 Credits

An introductory course in Aeronautical Science designed to provide the student with a broad-based aviation orientation in flight-related areas appropriate to all non-aeronautical science degree programs.

 Private Pilot Operations

5 Credits

This course develops the aeronautical knowledge required for certification as a Private Pilot with an Airplane Single Engine Land rating.

 Unmanned Aircraft Systems

3 Credits

This course is a survey of unmanned aircraft systems (UAS), emphasizing the military and commercial history, growth and application of UAS.

 Unmanned Aircraft Systems Security

3 Credits

Unmanned Aircraft System Security is a sophomore level seminar course focused on the concepts of UAS security and protection.

 Unmanned Aircraft Systems Operation and Cross-Country Data Entry

3 Credits

This course provides an understanding of the core technologies of unmanned aircraft systems. It will include examinations of the design concepts, powerplants, control systems, and communication technologies utilized in current unmanned aircraft systems and/or likely to be used in the next few years.

 About Air Force Junior ROTC

The mission of Air Force Junior ROTC is to develop citizens of character dedicated to serving their nation and community. It is not a USAF accessions program and cadets are never under any obligation to join the military. AFJROTC is a Title 10 US Code mandated citizenship training program that is designed to educate and train high school cadets in citizenship, promote community service and instill personal responsibility, character and self-discipline. Holm Center directs the Air Force’s high school citizenship training program and oversee 866 Air Force Junior ROTC units on high school campuses globally, with over 105,500 cadets participating.

The AFJROTC program has 878 units with an additional 14 National Defense Cadet Corps units—892 units in high schools worldwide. There are more than 121,000 high school cadets in the program and over 1,950 retired USAF instructors who lead, mentor, guide and teach cadets in high schools in the US and abroad. AFJROTC enjoys overwhelming school administration and community support because of the huge positive impact on cadets, schools, communities and our nation. In many communities that have no military bases within many miles, the cadets and instructors of AFJROTC are truly “The face of the Air Force in those communities across the US and the world.” For more information on AFJROTC, go online to http://www.au.af.mil/au/holmcenter.

 About the Gaetz Aerospace Institute

The premise of the Gaetz Aerospace Institute is simple; the concurrent enrollment model introduces high school students in Florida to rigorous STEM-related courses that prepare students for college while providing them a clear pathway to college graduation and high-paying jobs in thrilling and dynamic industries. High school students at participating schools have the opportunity to take university-level, tuition free courses, taught by college-credentialed high school teachers. Students gain exposure to the academic challenges of college while in a supportive high school environment and earn college credit when they successfully pass the course. Sometimes called “dual credit,” “dual enrollment,” or “college in the high school,” concurrent enrollment partnerships differ from other models of dual enrollment because high school instructors teach the college courses. Students are officially registered in Embry-Riddle courses that will reflect on their college transcripts. The curriculum, assessment criteria, pedagogy and course philosophy used by the high school instructor/adjunct professor are the same standards of achievement as those expected at Embry-Riddle’s Daytona Beach Campus.


Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, the world’s largest, fully accredited university specializing in aviation and aerospace, is a nonprofit, independent institution offering more than 80 baccalaureate, master’s and Ph.D. degree programs in its colleges of Arts & Sciences, Aviation, Business, Engineering and Security & Intelligence. Embry-Riddle educates students at residential campuses in Daytona Beach, Fla., and Prescott, Ariz., through the Worldwide Campus with more than 125 locations in the United States, Europe, Asia and the Middle East, and through online programs. The university is a major research center, seeking solutions to real-world problems in partnership with the aerospace industry, other universities and government agencies. For more information, visit www.embryriddle.edu, follow us on Twitter (@EmbryRiddle) and facebook.com/EmbryRiddleUniversity, and find expert videos at YouTube.com/EmbryRiddleUniv.