Houston makes pitch to land aviation school

HOUSTON The campus would have 1,000 students and 300 employees and that has local business leaders hoping that the school will choose Houston for the site of its new campus.

The president of Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University spent Tuesday in Houston, comparing our city with its competition - Rockford, Illinois, outside of Chicago. The cities are the two finalists for the site of the university's third main campus.

Embry-Riddle is the world's largest university specializing in aerospace and aviation. It has had the number one aerospace engineering program in the country for 11 years. It trains 22 percent of the professional pilots in the U.S., as well as 10 percent of the country's aerospace engineers.

The big bonus for Houston would be job creation and the opportunity for local students to have access to a world-class facility based at Ellington Field.

The university would supply jobs to local Boeing employees who could serve as professors or trainers, and especially to local NASA employees who may become the victims of job cuts.

"We would be looking at bringing some of those, hiring some of those folks to work with us, especially in areas like unmanned aerial vehicle research and that kind of thing, where that sort of engineering background would be very helpful to us," said Dr. John Johnson, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University President.

"They provided students and engineers, as well as designers and pilots to our planes and our products, and so having them here in Houston, the heart of human space flight, this is where it comes together for the spacecraft, for the design, the development, the testing," said Paul Diggins, Boeing Houston Site Director.

"They're one of the best," said Donna Morrison, Sterling HS Aviation Magnet Coordinator. "They're the Harvard of aviation and so therefore our kids will get the best."

The university did not give us any hard numbers, but they estimate that the Ellington Field location would bring thousands of jobs to Houston both directly and indirectly.

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