Military feature: Retiree directs aviation course

Freedom New Mexico: Karl Terry Robert Elliott, a former Cannon Air Force Base airman, was hired in June as the director for ENMU’s aviation science program.

Robert Elliott doubts that he’ll ever meet his students in person.

With his computer serving as a virtual classroom, Elliott will teach
online courses in aviation science from Eastern New Mexico University’s
Roswell campus. His students are located in across the country and in
South America and Africa.

The former Cannon Air Force Base airman was hired in June as the
director for ENMU’s aviation science program, which was created last
year. The program offers bachelor’s degrees in aviation science,
according to the program’s Web site.

“ENMU-Roswell, which is our branch campus down there of about 4,000
students, has a very strong two-year program in aviation,” said Steven
Gamble, ENMU president. “What we are offering is the next two years
after they get their associate degree that would allow them to get
their bachelor’s degree.”

Gamble said the university will also try to offer the program to airmen attending the Community College of the Air Force.

Elliott retired from the Air Force in 2004 with the rank of senior
master sergeant. He spent the final 12 years of his 25-year military
career at Cannon.

He said in his last position at Cannon as chief wing inspector his
responsibility was to make sure all units were ready to respond to
emergencies.

He pursued a career in education after leaving the Air Force and was
an academic advisor at Wayland Baptist University before he was hired
by ENMU. He hopes to earn a doctorate degree in higher education from
Texas Tech in December.

He received his associate degree in aircraft maintenance technology from the College of the Air Force.

According to the program’s Web site, all of the courses, which
include Federal Aviation Administration regulations, aviation
management and information management, are taught online.

Elliott said he will use distance education software that allows him to interact with his students in real time.

“That’s what I’m really looking forward to, in an online
environment, is having that additional face-to-face, synchronous
contact with the students because that does make a huge difference,”
said Ellliott, a Dayton, Ohio, native. “One of our barriers, though,
that we have to try to knock down the wall on, is that fact that we’re
going to have students in significantly different time zones.”