Airport Development vs. Airport Management

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As a graduate student in the M.S.A. in Airport Development and Management program, you are not stuck taking courses that are forced on you like most undergraduate programs. One of the largest reasons that I chose this degree program at Florida Tech is the flexibility and control you have as a student and adult to set up your future with the perfect curriculum and education.

The College of Aeronautics gives you the freedom of choosing whether to emphasize your curriculum in airport development or airport management. Although you will earn a degree in both disciplines, specializing in one will allow you to graduate with more expertise in either the development or management aspect of airports.

Airport Development vs. Airport Management. (Ding, ding, ding!)

In the airport development emphasis, you will focus on the continual design and planning aspects of the airport. The development specialization will prepare you for a great career as an aviation planner for both the airports’ development departments and engineering consulting firms. In order to be prepared for the real world, there are many extensive, hands-on classes to choose each semester:

  • Airport Development – work with a team of students and airport executives to complete an entire airport master plan update
  • AutoCAD for Airport Environments – master the program of AutoCAD by designing and creating an entire airfield with runway and taxiway drawings, gate and terminal design and moving aircraft simulations
  • Construction Contracts, Law and Specifications – learn about all of the important laws and specifications that are important when planning and designing new facilities at an airport

On the other hand, the airport management emphasis will focus on the supervision of the daily operations and finance of the airport. The management specification will prepare you for exciting careers at airports all around the world as airport directors, department managers and operations specialists. Similar to airport development, there are many key classes that will ensure your success in the real world:

  • Airport Operations – learn how to successfully run and develop an airport as an executive
  • Financial Management – with aviation being one of the largest industries in the economy, it is important for airport managers to know how to budget airport operations
  • Aviation Security – understand the ins and outs of how to ensure the airport you work for has safe operations
Noise Exposure Map

Noise Exposure Map with population created with INM Software

To do a thesis or not? That is the Question.

Another option that is left for you to freely choose is whether or not to graduate with a thesis. For many majors that plan on pursing a career in research or continuing on to obtaining their Ph.D., the thesis route is the perfect way to go. It will give graduates working research knowledge in a specific aviation area that may lead them to a job.

Instead, the non-thesis track will set up graduates to enter the aviation industry workforce with the proper knowledge and experience. Although you do not have a long, extensive thesis to market yourself at job interviews, you will graduate with a completed advanced aviation research project (basically a mini-thesis), additional courses in your desired field of work and an internship that will provide you with hands-on experience. I decided to take the non-thesis path, because my ultimate goal is to become part of aviation planning network that does not require a Ph.D. or thesis to get a job. Instead, they are looking for the knowledge and experience to start the job right out of college.

Part 77 Surfaces

Part 77 Surfaces created in AutoCAD

Overwhelming decisions made easy.

Although it may be up to you with how you want to shape your future with an Airport Development and Management degree, the College of Aeronautics faculty is packed with aviation experts, from aviation planners to airport directors, that are readily available to lead you in the right direction.

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