The Embry-Riddle Story

Only a select few universities in the world can safely be called the absolute best at what they do. At Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, what we do — and do best — is teach the science, practice, and business of aviation, aerospace, and engineering.

On December 17, 1925, exactly 22 years after the historic flight of the Wright Flyer, barnstormer John Paul Riddle and entrepreneur T. Higbee Embry founded the Embry-Riddle Company at Lunken Airport in Cincinnati, Ohio. The following spring the company opened the Embry-Riddle School of Aviation. Read a historical paper about the early years.

We taught the world how to fly

Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University began with a simple plan to train airplane pilots in a thorough, efficient manner and to cash in on a booming post-World War I interest in flying. Today, Embry-Riddle leads the world in aviation and aerospace higher education.

Embry-Riddle cadets

After a period of decline in the 1930s, Embry-Riddle sprang to life again as World War II erupted in Europe and the demand for aviators and mechanics surged. Allied nations sent more than 25,000 young men to Embry-Riddle’s Florida centers to become pilots and aviation technicians. During the Korean War the U.S. Air Force contracted with Embry-Riddle to train airmen in the fundamentals of airplane maintenance.

Under the leadership of John and Isabel McKay, Embry-Riddle expanded its international outreach and strengthened its academic programs. In 1965, with Jack R. Hunt as president, Embry-Riddle consolidated its flight training, ground school, and technical training programs in one location. Financed with dollars and trucks borrowed from civic leaders, the move to Daytona Beach, Florida, proved to be a moment of singular importance. It signaled the rebirth of Embry-Riddle and the start of its odyssey to world-class status.

From technical school to university

Within three years of the move, the institution was accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (1866 Southern Lane, Decatur, Georgia 30033-4097, Telephone: 404-679-4501). Two years later, Embry-Riddle gained university stature.

Expansion of the University began under Hunt’s direction when the 510-acre site of a former college in Prescott, Arizona, became the western campus of Embry-Riddle. This proved to be only the beginning of the growth the school would experience.

Graduate programs added; industry links strengthened

Continuing the legacy of Hunt was Lt. General Kenneth L. Tallman, who served as president of Embry-Riddle for five years. Under Tallman’s leadership, a school of graduate studies and the electrical engineering degree program were introduced. He led the University into research with the addition of the engineering physics degree. He also developed stronger ties between Embry-Riddle and the aviation/aerospace industry.

Dr. Steven M. Sliwa led the University from 1991 to 1998. Sliwa, the University’s third president, is best known for creating an entrepreneurial environment and for developing strategic partnerships with industry. These partnerships included a joint venture with FlightSafety International; a partnership with Cessna that includes options to purchase 300 aircraft; a technology alliance with IBM; and an exclusive educational partnership with AOPA. He also spearheaded a $100+ million capital expansion program, which included an $11.5 million congressional line-item appropriation. In addition, new academic and research programs were created at his direction to respond to structural changes in the industry while increasing market share in the University’s core programs.

Embry-Riddle’s fourth president, Dr. George H. Ebbs, led the University from 1998 through 2005. Under his leadership, new graduate degree programs in safety science and space science were introduced, as well as new undergraduate degree programs in computer science, global security and intelligence studies, mechanical engineering, software engineering, and space physics. Major construction began on the Aviation Complex at the Daytona Beach campus and the Academic Complex at the Prescott campus. Dr. Ebbs presided over three military contracts worth a total of more than $57 million. Under those contracts Embry-Riddle provides aviation-related degree programs to the U.S. military in Europe, trains Air Force pilots at the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, and trains Air Force, Air National Guard, and international flight safety officers at Kirtland Air Force Base in Albuquerque, N.M.

Dr. John P. Johnson is the University’s fifth president. He previously served as Embry-Riddle’s interim president and as provost and chief academic officer. Under his leadership the University has expanded its research activity, has established new degree programs, and is developing a global strategy to take its aviation and aerospace expertise overseas. Before joining Embry-Riddle, Dr. Johnson was the provost and vice president for academic affairs at Texas A&M University, Texarkana, and served as dean at the Medical University of South Carolina and at Northern Kentucky University.

Embry-Riddle’s Advanced Flight Simulation Center on the University’s Daytona Beach campus is equipped with an FAA-certified Level-6 CRJ-200 simulator and Level-6 Frasca flight-training devices. The center serves as a training facility for our students and commercial airline pilots while providing avenues for research.

Embry-Riddle offers training for aviation maintenance professionals through the Aviation Maintenance Science (AMS) department. These programs include FAA-approved airframe and powerplant mechanic certification and a specialization in avionics line maintenance. Federal Communications Commission certification training is also available through AMS.

Residential campuses plus worldwide accessiblity

In addition to its two traditional residential campuses, Embry-Riddle through its Worldwide Campus provides educational opportunities for professionals working in civilian and military aviation and aerospace careers. The Worldwide Campus includes the College of Career Education’s classroom and online learning operations. The College operates more than 130 centers in the United States, Canada, Europe and the Middle East, with locations at or near major aviation industry installations, both civilian and military. Students who don’t live near one of the centers can enroll in many of the same programs through distance learning.

Embry-Riddle enrolls more than 32,000 students annually. Undergraduate enrollment for the fall term is 4,400 at the Daytona Beach campus and 1,600 at the Prescott campus. Additionally, more than 420 graduate students are enrolled at the Daytona Beach and Prescott campuses during the fall term. The programs of the Worldwide Campus enroll more than 19,000 undergraduates annually, while graduate enrollment is more than 5,700. Embry-Riddle’s students represent all 50 states and 93 nations.

The University offers more than 30 undergraduate and graduate degrees and provides the ideal environment for learning. It combines an impressive faculty with state-of-the-art buildings, laboratories, classrooms, and a diverse student population.

Industry research leader

Research is a vital component of many universities and Embry-Riddle is no exception. Even though Embry-Riddle is primarily a teaching institution, research plays an important role for our students and for the industries we serve. The focus is on applied, solution-oriented research. In the fiscal year 2004-2005, 110 faculty members were involved in research with 123 sponsored projects. Total funding was almost $27 million.

While pursuing their education, Embry-Riddle students gain valuable experience through participation in cooperative education and internship opportunities. Embry-Riddle has co-op or internship agreements with most of the major airlines; with companies such as B/E Aerospace, Boeing, Gulfstream Aerospace, Lockheed Martin, Pratt & Whitney, and Rockwell Collins; and with governmental agencies such as the FAA, NASA, the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration, the National Transportation Safety Board, and Naval Air Systems Command. The relationship established between student and company often results in a full-time job for the student upon graduation.

Vital alumni links

The University’s alumni, who work in all areas of aviation and aerospace, assist Embry-Riddle’s Career Services office by offering their expertise and career opportunities to current students. Alumni participate in recruitment and retention programs, attend college fairs, and support the Alumni Sharing Knowledge (ASK) program. The University participates in major trade shows such as Asian Aerospace, NBAA, Oshkosh, the Paris Airshow, and the United States Air and Trade Show, and sponsors the Embry-Riddle Industry/Career Expo. All these activities provide networking opportunities for Embry-Riddle alumni in the aviation industry.

As aviation and aerospace continue to evolve, so does Embry-Riddle. The University is committed to the expansion of opportunities for students to work more closely with the aviation industry in the United States and in other countries. Guiding the process of evolution are dedicated teachers, administrators, alumni, trustees, and advisory board members who share the students’ love of aviation and who strive to ensure Embry-Riddle’s continued position as the world’s premier aviation and aerospace university.