Aviation student

International students with F-1 visas can now enroll in OCC's Aviation program, enabling them to take part in lessons such as the simulation pictured here as part of the their education.

The Aviation Science Department at Orange Coast College has been approved by the Department of Homeland Security to offer aviation pilot training to international students with an F-1 visa. 

Working with the Department of Homeland Security over the past couple of years, the Global Engagement Center was given approval in early October. F-1 visas give foreign students the ability to enter the United States to study.

“To be able to get this authorization from the Department of Homeland Security, we had to be able to justify and show that our training is robust and structured and that we have a plan to allow students to come from other countries,” Aviation Science Instructor and Program Coordinator Stanley Harriman said.

Enrollment for international students will begin in the spring semester. Students interested in changing their majors can contact the Global Engagement Center.

“The rest of the world is in dire need of pilots,” Harriman said. “By having this approval I expect to see a significant increase in enrollment to the point where we may have to design and integrate classes just directed towards international students.”

Currently the department has an established scholarship with the private jet company Clay Lacy Aviation. The scholarship is awarded to four students a semester and began in 2017.

“I don’t think this scholarship is going to end just with students from the U.S. I think there will be scholarship opportunities all around,” Harriman siad.

Clay Lacy Aviation was also recently awarded a lease to build and operate a Fixed Base Operation at John Wayne Airport. The space will include some new facilities for the Aviation Science Department at OCC.

“They wanted to lend some of their resources to us for our students to interact with their pilots, their mechanics, the dispatchers there. So our students have a contact, and some sort of opportunity to learn from them,” Harriman said. “From the very start they have always wanted to work with us and had us in their plan to be a part of their presence at John Wayne Airport.”

While classes currently are all online, the department still works with Orange County Flight Center, a third-party flight training vendor that adheres to COVID-19 guidelines, giving students the opportunity to fly airplanes around John Wayne and work towards their licenses.

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