UH Hilo celebrates first aeronautical science graduates; prospective students encouraged to apply for fall

It’s a big year for UH Hilo’s aeronautical science program! The program just celebrated its first graduates and is now accepting applications for fall after hiatus during the pandemic.

Student at controls of a simulated flight with an island on the screens.
UH Hilo aeronautical science student in the Simulation Lab. (Josephine Mischon/University Relations)

By Susan Enright.

This spring, University of Hawai‘i at Hilo celebrated its first two graduates from the aeronautical science program. David Freedman and Trek Tanabe have completed the requirements, and senior Kiana Burgher has just a few more credits to go. All three participated in commencement on May 13.

Kai Kahele and David Freedman talk to group.
From left, Kai Kahele, David Freedman and students at the Aeronautical Science program’s “wrap party,” May 3, 2023. (Josephine Mischon/University Relations)

The program hosted a “wrap party” earlier this month attended by students (juniors are heading off to flight school), instructors, Chancellor Bonnie Irwin, and former U.S. Representative Kai Kahele. Kahele, an adjunct faculty member at UH Hilo, is a military and civilian pilot and has been a champion of the UH Hilo program during its years of development.

The program is once again accepting applications for the fall semester after being on hold during the pandemic.

“It’s so exciting to see some of our students cross the finish line and to be able to start admitting students again to this promising program,” says Chancellor Irwin.

Large group of students, instructors and administrator stand for photo in lab.
UH Hilo’s aeronautical science program celebrated its first graduates at a “wrap party” on May 3, 2023, at the campus Simulation Lab. From left, David Freedman (one of the two first graduates of the program), Kanani Keli‘ikoa (junior), Tim Johnson (certified flight instructor who teaches in the program), Chancellor Bonnie Irwin, Tyler Camaro (junior), Kayleeana-Ann Kobayashi-Toler (junior, in front), Kiana Burgher (senior, behind Kayleena), Dorian Verdugo (junior), Aislynn Mandaloniz (junior), Hazel Faith Gani (junior), Elijah-Rece Pilmoca (junior), Jurielle Cassandra Angel Martinez-Parel (senior), Alfred Franco (junior); Juaquin Robinett (junior), Anuhea Smith (junior), Marc Steinhilber (instructor, in back with glasses), and juniors Tialar DeCoito, Marc Sison, Jake Padilla, Ryan Lapenses, Nawaakoa Faurot, Spencer Zaharis, and Jomar Reyes. (Josephine Mischon/University Relations)

Accepting new students for the fall

The bachelor of science in aeronautical science is being offered provisionally beginning in fall 2023 according to standard accreditation procedures of the Western Association of Schools and Colleges.

Marc Steinhilber
Marc Steinhilber (File photo)

“We are very excited to be offering a pathway to a professional aviation career while earning a bachelor’s degree at UH Hilo,” says Marc Steinhilber, a lecturer in aeronautical science at UH Hilo.

“We have two pathways in our aeronautical science program,” explains Steinhilber. “The pilot pathway is the first step in an exciting and lucrative career as an airline pilot. We also have an aerial information technology pathway leading to professional certification as a commercial drone operator. Both pathways set up our students for success and we are very delighted to be offering this program.”

For students currently in other programs at the university who may be interested in becoming a pilot or operating unmanned drones, freshman level aeronautical science (AERS) courses will be offered again during the 2023-2024 academic year, and students enrolled at UH Hilo will be able to change their majors to AERS via the Registrar’s Office during the fall 2023 semester. Future incoming students (fall 2024 and beyond) will be able to declare AERS as their major at the time of application to UH Hilo.

For more information, contact Marc Steinhilber, or email aerohilo@hawaii.edu, or call (808) 932-7341.

Learn more at the Department of Aeronautical Science website.

Story by Susan Enright, a public information specialist for the Office of the Chancellor and editor of UH Hilo Stories. She received her bachelor of arts in English and certificate in women’s studies from UH Hilo.

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