Maj. Gen. Mark Smith, Civil Air Patrol’s national commander and CEO, visited Middle Tennessee State University in Murfreesboro today to celebrate the fifth year of the partnership between MTSU’s Department of Aerospace and the U.S. Air Force auxiliary’s Tennessee Wing.
MTSU’s leadership, including President Sidney A. McPhee and Provost Mark Byrnes, rolled out the carpet for Smith.
“We are honored to welcome Gen. Smith and his leadership team to our campus,” McPhee said Friday morning. “This is yet another productive partnership that allows our university to connect with great prospective students and help serve our community.”
The university’s College of Basic and Applied Sciences, through its aerospace department, first inked a partnership with CAP’s Tennessee Wing in 2014 to provide cadets 12-18 with opportunities to interact with faculty and explore the Murfreesboro campus.
“Civil Air Patrol’s partnership with MTSU is a model that we hope to replicate throughout the country,” Smith said. “It adds value to our cadet program and helps this great university reach out to excellent prospective students.”
Smith’s day on campus was to begin with a lecture on principles of leadership to about 100 students sponsored by University Honors College and Omicron Delta Kappa.
The general, along with John Salvador, the organization’s chief operating officer, and several senior CAP officers were to tour MTSU’s $3.2 million, 360-degree air traffic control simulator, along with other aerospace labs on campus and at Murfreesboro Municipal Airport.
McPhee planned a lunch briefing for Smith and his team about MTSU’s partnership with Delta Propel, a special relationship with MTSU Aerospace that allows the airline to identify promising student pilots that lead to qualified job offers before graduation.
Afterward, Smith, a former U.S. Air Force fighter pilot and Operation Desert Storm veteran, was to be honored in a special ceremony at MTSU’s Veterans Memorial, hosted by retired U.S. Army Lt. Gen. Keith Huber, the university’s senior adviser for veterans and leadership initiatives.
MTSU’s close ties with CAP stretch back to July 1948, when CAP’s former Middle Tennessee State College Squadron was organized and MTSU’s Department of Aerospace was just 6 years old.
MTSU hosted the Tennessee Wing Cadet Encampment in 2016, 2017 and 2018 and welcomed the 2019 encampment’s leadership cadre to campus earlier this month.
Also, for the third consecutive year, MTSU this summer will host the CAP Engineering Technology Academy, a national cadet special activity that attracts about 40 prospective students nationwide to learn about aerospace and engineering technology.
Friday also marks the start of this year’s Tennessee Wing Conference, the state’s premier CAP membership event, held at MTSU for the third time.
Col. Dent Young, commander of CAP’s Tennessee Wing, has called MTSU “a valuable partner in many ways but especially in our successful and growing cadet program.” Cadets account for half of the wing’s 1,000 members.
Bud Fischer, dean of the College of Basic and Applied Sciences, has encouraged faculty from the Aerospace, Engineering Technology, Biology, Chemistry, Physics and Astronomy, and Military Science departments to engage with the cadets throughout the partnership.
“MTSU has the academic programs that many of these outstanding cadets will pursue in college,” McPhee said. “These events give them a sneak peek of what’s possible.”
MTSU lured the Engineering Technology Academy away from Auburn University in Alabama – a point of pride for MTSU alumnus and Southeast Region Commander Col. Barry Melton, who oversees CAP wings in five states, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
“I am proud that my alma mater has established such a strong partnership with our organization,” Melton said. “It truly is a win-win.”