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SAVOY, Ill. (AP) — The former University of Illinois aviation institute will become part of a regular academic program at Parkland College in Champaign.

Parkland trustees approved the change during a Wednesday meeting at the Institute of Aviation in the old Willard Airport terminal, The News-Gazette reported.

Board member Greg Knott said the program is important to the airport and for aviation students who “will be the pilots who will fly us around the country and the world in the future.”

“And I also got a lot of pressure from community members who wanted to keep the institute here at the airport and for the future jobs that could spin out from this,” said Knott of the program.

Pam Lau is the vice president for academic services at Parkland. She said the college’s aviation program began in fall 2014 with $3 million in grant funding from UI and a $1 annual building lease.

Lau said that the number of aviation students has increased from 42 in fiscal year 2015 to 67 this year. The number of earned credit hours taken also has nearly doubled from 180 in fiscal year 2015 to 353 this year.

“Everything is going in the right directions,” Lau said.

Lau said the institute will begin offering a six-credit-hour certificate this year in unmanned aircraft systems, or drones, and also will look into upgrading the technology in its aircraft while downsizing the fleet.

Parkland President Tom Ramage said institute’s 28 planes would be reduced.


Information from: The News-Gazette,