The dynamic and rapidly changing aviation industry needs people who can make informed decisions and drive innovation. Program manager Dr Graham Wild explains how RMIT is developing aviation thinkers.
First, what is aviation?
Aviation is mostly about passenger transport and the supporting industry. A lot of it relates to people’s experiences: we book a trip, we go to an airport, we get on an aeroplane, and we fly. These, and the many aspects hidden between, are what make up the aviation industry.
It is thought that a majority of the world’s population will fly on a commercial flight at least once in their lifetime. The proportion of people who have flown in the United States is around 80 per cent, and in China it is around 50 per cent.
Air cargo is also a very significant aspect of the aviation industry. Research suggests that around 85 per cent of the global online population have purchased something online; which typically involves a package sent via airmail.
The aviation industry is changing and it’s more than just the passenger experience and managing systems, it’s also about logistics, analytics, airworthiness and technology.
Can you tell us about the Master of Science (Aviation)?
In consultation with industry, RMIT has identified a need for diverse skills in the aviation industry. The new Master of Science (Aviation) is a flexible program allowing students to select from a range of specialisations spanning the breadth of the aviation industry.
The capstone of the program is the aviation research project. Research is essential to fully develop critical thinking and a diverse range of analytical skills which facilitates logical decision making – a crucial skill for the highly-competitive aviation industry.
The project is built on two core courses, Introduction to Statistics and Research Methods, which can be from social science, management or applied science.
Good numeracy skills are important at the upper levels of the aviation industry; knowing exchange rates and oil prices for a day can determine if a profit or loss will occur. More specific to the aviation research project, data collection, data summarisation, data presentation, and data analysis are also fundamental learning priorities.
For the Research Methods course, students will be able to customise their research skill set to best suit their intended aviation research project and their preferred career focus.
What will students be able to research?
The topics are only really limited by a student’s imagination. We would recommend that a student working in industry undertake research that will directly benefit their work. If the student is not working in industry, we suggest they undertake research into an area they want to work.
We also suggest students use the expertise of RMIT aviation staff to undertake an innovative industry relevant project. A conscientious student can select an independent topic, and use RMIT aviation staff for guidance in terms of methodologies and data analysis.
RMIT aviation staff members are making contributions to a number of areas, particularly in the environmental sustainability of airports and the economic sustainability of airlines.
Remotely piloted aircraft systems is a growing area which is demanding more quantitative research, in terms of safety, risk, and operational aspects.
Service quality is another interesting area; looking at customer satisfaction with airport and airline services, and looking at how customers interact with technology – especially as the industry increases its degree of automation and e-commerce continues to grow.
Expertise in the area of analytics is also in high demand. The low profit margins that are prevalent in aviation mean that companies highly value the ability to be able to forecasts patterns in the industry. Significant work has gone into this area with alternative and advanced analytics systems – particularly in artificial intelligence.
Other areas of focus at RMIT include airworthiness, human factors, safety management, history and evolution, post-accident analysis, and aviation technology.
What makes RMIT’s aviation research different?
At RMIT, we have a proud and long heritage with aviation and aerospace. We have been part of the industry in Australia for over 70 years.
RMIT is home to the Sir Lawrence Wackett Research Centre, a name synonymous with Australian aircraft.
RMIT was ranked number 1 in Australia for Aerospace Research (2015 ERA ranking of 5, world leading) which is in no small part due to the outcome-driven research undertaken by our academics and staff.
Success Begins Here: Start studying the Master of Science (Aviation) .
Story: Melinda Dziedzic