Hey, I’m a current Purdue student within the School of Aviation and Transportation Technology. Just like you, I was looking at Riddle, Western Michigan, North Dakota, and several others. I took a tour at Purdue and absolutely fell in love with it. Statistically speaking, Purdue is number one in most Aviation Majors across the United States and the school lies within Purdue’s Polytechnic Institute which also ranks top of the list for technology related majors.
There’s really 4 main things you can do within the School of Aviation: Professional Flight Technology, Aviation Management, Unmanned Aerial Systems and Aeronautical Engineering Technology (not to be confused with Aeronautical Engineering).
Professional Flight - your typical part 141 flight school. Includes lectures along with flight labs where you can log time in aircraft. Typically, students who come in with a private start working on building time but don’t even think about getting your instrument or commercial until your sophomore/junior year. As it is highly regulated under part 141, you have to go at the pace that the University decides. Most come out as a CFI by the end of junior year and continue to build time that way. If you meet the requirements, you are eligible for a R-ATP which will cut you 500 hours for entry into the airlines. A fair warning, the major is extremely narrow with job opportunities; the only real pathway is to becoming a pilot. Lose a medical, lose interest, lose something, and it can all go down to shambles. If you think about it, 500 hours is maybe a year longer of instructing if you are full time. Don’t get me wrong, the Flight program is great, arguably the best, but the reality of things is that you can obtain the exact same thing at a part 61. This doesn’t only go for Purdue but for all 141s.
Aviation Management - best one in my opinion (because I’m an Aviation Management major). A very broad study of the aviation industry. Business, ATC, etc. It’s all there at your fingertips. Great professors with a relatively balance-able workload. You can get most general jobs in the industry with this degree and it is for sure more versatile than Flight. If you were wondering, Purdue has a part 61 flight school across the way, and I’m pursuing my certificates there while studying management. It’s great!
Unmanned Aerial Systems - pretty small program don’t know too much about this one. You get to work with drones and robots a bunch which could be fun.
AET - mechanic school, work on planes, definitely not as difficult as Aeronautical Engineering (which is in a totally different college itself).
As for Riddle, don’t count it out but there are so many more reasons to come to Purdue. I always saw Riddle as a trade school while I was able to get a true college experience with a great School of Aviation behind me. If you are really interested in coming to Purdue, come take a free tour. I remember when I took mine a few years ago, and guess what, now I’m one of the tour leaders! Funny how it came full circle, but yes I truly do like it here and think that you will too. If you have any specific questions, you can drop a message in my inbox.