10:18 AM

Tenn. University Renews Partnership with CAP

3-year Agreement Links CAP, Dept. of Aerospace

Middle Tennessee State University has renewed 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.

Melton is an MTSU graduate who oversees CAP wings in Tennessee, Alabama, Florida, Georgia and Mississippi, as well as Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. He said he’s 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. That activity attracts about 100 youth from ages 12-21 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 the ceremony, as reinforcement to the value of the partnership.

Two of the four, Cadet Lt. Cols. Jack Higdon of the Henry County Composite Squadron and Jonah Torp-Pedersen of the Murfreesboro Composite Squadron, have enrolled at MTSU this fall to study aerospace. The other two, Cadet Lt. Col. Joshua Brinegar of the Lewis County Cadet Squadron and Cadet Capt. Joshua Williams of the Tennessee Wing Headquarters Squadron, 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.

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 consisted of pilots trained on campus and was recognized for its search-and-rescue work. It operated on campus until 1953.