History and Mission of the Aviation Institute
The Mission of the Aviation Institute is to:
Provide an environment where students are supported and challenged as they develop the skills, knowledge, and experiences that prepare them for personally and professionally rewarding careers in aviation and transportation.
Conduct research that enhances the safety, security, efficiency, reliability, and sustainability of aviation and transportation services; and improves mobility and quality of life for the citizens of the State of Nebraska.
Engage the community through partnerships and other collaborative initiatives that improve the lives of the citizens of the State of Nebraska and others through innovative education, training, research, and service projects.
Maintain the highest standards of integrity and transparency in the conduct of the Institute’s business and the management and stewardship of its resources.
The Aviation Institute was founded with support from Omaha’s civic and business leaders including Charles Durham, Walter Scott, and Mike Harper. Don Smithey, former Executive Director of the Omaha Airport Authority, spearheaded the effort by working with Otto Bauer and John Faar of UNO’s administration to establish the Institute in 1990. The Institute’s first Director, Bill Shea, established a foundation for the development of the undergraduate degree program with the Dean of the College of Public Affairs and Community Service, David Hinton. They worked to integrate the Institute into the College and the Department of Public Administration.
The Institute now offers a Bachelor of Science in Aviation with concentrations in Air Transport Administration and Professional Flight as well as concentrations in Aviation and Transportation as part of the School of Public Administration’s MPA and PhD programs. A minor in Aviation was also developed for students at the University who were not in the Aviation program, but wanted a portion of an aviation curriculum to support their major. In order to advance the reach of the aviation program, the Aviation Institute began a partnership with Omaha Burke High School in the fall of 2010 by adding aviation as an option in their dual enrollment program.
In more recent years, the Aviation Institute has had some major facility upgrades. In the fall of 2008, the Aviation Institute along with their counterparts in the College of Public Affairs and Community Service moved into the newly renovated CPACS Building. This also included an upgraded Aviation Resource Center and Advanced Simulation Facility. An addition to the Advanced Simulation Facility was made in August of 2012 with the addition of a full motion G1000 Simulator and in the Fall of 2013 with a Redbird Simulator.