World's Leading Independent Aviation News Service
Volume 25, Number 14a
April 2, 2018
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OSHA Reinstates Fired Pilot
Mary Grady

A pilot who was fired after complaining about the rest time allotted by his employer has been reinstated by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration. The pilot, whose name has not been released, “reasonably believed” a new scheduling policy initiated by Boston MedFlight might not provide pilots with the rest time required by the FAA, OSHA said. While stationed at Hanscom Air Force Base in Bedford, Massachusetts, in December 2015, the pilot told his employers about his apprehension about whether a new scheduling policy would provide pilots with required FAA rest time. In January 2016, he contacted the FAA to register his concerns. He was terminated in March 2016 after he declined two flight assignments because he believed he had not been given the time to rest mandated by regulation. “This pilot should be commended — not penalized — for raising legitimate safety concerns that can affect him, his co-workers, and the general public,” said Galen Blanton, regional administrator for OSHA in the Boston area.

OSHA’s investigation concluded the pilot was terminated for reporting safety concerns, a protected activity under federal law. In addition to reinstating the employee, and clearing his personnel file of any reference to the issues involved in the investigation, OSHA also ordered the employers to pay the pilot $133,616.09 in back wages and interest, $100,000 in compensatory damages and reasonable attorney fees, and to refrain from retaliating against the employee. The employers must also post a notice informing all employees of their whistleblower protections under the law. The employers told they will appeal OSHA’s decision. “The individual was not an employee of ours,” a spokesman for Boston MedFlight said in an email. “We contest and disagree with facts stated in the decision. We address any safety concern raised with the greatest sense of urgency.”

French Airship Company Tries A New Design
Mary Grady

A number of companies have tried a range of variations on the traditional airship in recent years, attempting to combine the simplicity of buoyant flight with new technology to create marketable aircraft — so far, with limited success. Now a new French company, Flying Whales, with support from Chinese aviation conglomerate AVIC, is working on a design that will be able to carry up to 60 tons of cargo. The 500-foot-long airship will load and unload without landing, using slings, a feature that will make it possible to harvest wood from deep forests without roads, the company says. The aircraft will be powered by hybrid distributed electric propulsion and may be capable of remotely piloted flight. The first flight is expected in 2021.

Sebastien Bougon, founder and CEO, told the Sydney Morning Herald, "We have a solid base. The wood market alone justifies our investments, and we've got low-risk prospects beyond." Flying Whales already has raised more than $300 million in capital, according to the Herald. Besides AVIC, investors include Bpifrance, which has invested 25 million euros; France’s national forestry office; and the Nouvelle Aquitaine region in the southwest of the country. Other recent airship projects include the Airlander, in England, and a mystery project reportedly underway in Silicon Valley.

Guest Blog: Selling The Fun, Not The Gewgaws
Jason Baker

Life as a full-time news editor and marketing dude can get a bit boring. Did you know that company XYZ has developed product A, or expanded service to now include B and manager Joe Little and CEO Frank Big both think it’s the most amazing thing since dinosaurs walked on earth? Oh, and don’t forget to read the About Us tab. It’s been the same for nine years. Yawn.

Missing the audience and failing to convey a message that departs the norm and veers off the beaten path seems to have become the norm. People like me now make a living telling aviation companies that canned news releases and newsletters as well as Facebook and Twitter hashtags and other social media storms are short-lived vehicles to convey what we do with those we wish to reach. 

Pictures are great, videos are great, but they don't make people jump up and drive to their local airport to take flying lessons. Maybe we have to be more human in how we communicate, so that we reach more humans with what we have to offer. Language is powerful and—seriously folks—people on the outside just get blurry vision and then click on something that "gets them." 

Even those who exchange ideas, concepts or thoughts among their fellow pilots through forums and discussion groups appear to be a bit tired at times. Discussions have turned stale and repetitive. There's always one person who can one-up the other, either financially or with the number of toys owned. The tone often turns negative towards the very future of what we love and wish to sustain for future generations to come. 

Our fraternity feels discriminated against by regulators who don't understand what general aviation is all about, mistreated by the press and media, which often shows its bias and lack of knowledge, and bugged down by politicians who can't tell an airplane from a hole in the wall. Senator Schumer could have just zipped it, rather than involving himself in the tiresome helicopter debate. Rah, rah.

We live and operate in a complicated and highly technical environment that has mastered unique and tremendous challenges in its past. No question, we have huge challenges in front of us. Over the last two years, my own thinking has changed and these days I wonder if our focus for selling general aviation should be shifting to how we communicate about general aviation. I believe that how we communicate has much more impact than what we communicate. What is general aviation? First and foremost, it’s fun. It’s the freedom to discover and explore and experience truly endless beauty. 

So here we are, 10-plus years into the LSA and Sport Pilot movement with the heavily relaxed BasicMed process to get people back into the mix and yet our growth appears relatively stagnant. Again. Nothing seems to catch on. The old guys don't think it's worth jumping back in and the youngsters are so involved and focused on Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram and staring at their smartphones, that having a conversation at the dinner table isn't possible without functional Wi-Fi. We middle-aged people are no better, mind you. When was the last time you completely unplugged?

My new Bose A20 reads me my messages and emails on demand and I can watch my favorite movie right on my SVT HUD while clipping along at 210 IAS on the new S-TEC AP with the A/C on. Ever since I got that STC'd STOL kit and the 2850 XLs, her Vx and Vy is like ... Can someone from the general populace follow us when we talk about ADS-B, XPDRs, 14 CFR Part 91, certification standards, G1000XLi, EFBs, SBs and ADs? You get the point.

Having gotten nearly all the fancy badges on my own FAA certificate listing, I distinctly recall an examiner who stated that there are two kinds of pilots out there. There are those who chase bigger metal and more technology and those who chase adventure and fun and the flying contraption they use is simply a tool to experience and share just that. 

I always enjoyed and embraced the small airplane stuff much more than the information about Boeing's newest wide-body or Branson's plans to shoot people across the globe at warp speed for close to a trillion dollars per seat. I do appreciate the development in technology and all the crazy gadgets, really, but what I really want is stick-and-rudder, low-and-slow VFR flying fun.

Frequently, I hear that general aviation is competing with other, easier-to-learn and finance leisure activities like boats, Jet Skis, ATVs and motorcycles. And even RVs. Just like sport flying, all these things bond families together and provide endless fun. They all convey just that message in their marketing and advertising. Are we really competing? Can you fly a boat, Jet Ski, ATV or depart planet earth and climb above the clouds on a motorcycle without a notarized will? None of our competitors is free of risk, liability or cheap to insure. Each come with challenges of their own. 

We may need to relax on the mundane numbers and abbreviations based on highly technical BS nobody needs or wants to see and focus on what makes sport and general aviation flying unique and priceless. And why anyone not involved or caught by the virus is missing out on a lifestyle and passion that is simply impossible to match. Please don't let it be an autopilot. 

Is there hope for radical change in how we portray sport and general aviation to the public and among our peers? Would doing so change things? Hope springs eternal and we have to start somewhere.

Jason Baker is a marketing consultant and editor. He lives in Germany and edits

NASA Super Computers Aim At Aircraft Noise
Paul Bertorelli

On an airliner, engines are a source of noise heard on the ground, but so is airflow over landing gear, flaps and slats. Using massive supercomputers to model airflow, NASA is seeking ways to reduce such noise. This AVweb video explains the project.

Hey! No Scaring The Passengers!
Rick Durden

One of the comments made by some pilots when a group of them gather is that their spouses or significant others and family members won’t fly with them. While riding in little airplanes is certainly not to every person’s taste—and rising above the planet does generate a concern about returning to it less than gracefully—some of the time it’s the pilot’s own behavior that has caused the problem. Most of the time the pilot doesn’t realize what he’s done to cause those nearest and dearest to decline to go aloft with him.

It’s bad enough that some of the terms we use in aviation imply an unpleasant end to a flight—we’ll depart from the “terminal,” we’re on our “final” approach—there are a lot of things pilots do that are technically safe, but that scare the stuffing out of their passengers. To make matters worse, they are things to which most pilots are utterly oblivious.

Running A Tank Dry

In general, there is nothing wrong with running a fuel tank dry on purpose, at altitude, in cruise. It isn't going to suck any impurities, dirt or small children into the fuel lines.

There are legitimate times in which a pilot wants to run a tank dry. For instance, in airplanes that aren't equipped with a "both" position on the fuel selector, a pilot may desire to get all of the fuel out of a tank, particularly on older airplanes with numerous tanks. Switching to a tank containing fuel and turning on the boost pump (if the POH/Owner's Manual calls for it) usually means the engine gets noisy again once the air in the fuel lines is replaced by fuel. While it can take a fair amount of time in some circumstances (and it may be over a minute—worst case—in a few airplanes), it's usually not a big deal, technically.

From the point of view of a passenger as the engine cuts out, it's bloody terrifying. A pilot has been through it all before and is in control—those two words are hugely important when considering your passengers. The passenger is not in control, it's a heck of a long way down and that loud silence up front—even briefly—is no fun whatsoever. I’ve had pilots tell me that they hate it when they are a passenger and the pilot runs a tank dry. It never comes when they expect it—even when they know it’s going to be happening—and it makes the adrenaline spray out their ears.

One of the very worst fears we humans have is of falling. So, where are our passengers, those humans with virtually no control over their fates? Way up high. And you, the pilot, are in charge, and allowing the engine to quit. Think how that makes them feel.

Shrinks explain that anger is a "secondary" emotion. It is the product of a primary emotion, usually fear. Anger only comes out when a more basic emotion triggers it. When you scare a passenger, there's a healthy chance that the result will be anger at you. It may not be expressed directly, especially at first, but it will be expressed in some fashion, be it a refusal to fly with you, nasty comments behind your back or other actions against you in your relationship, especially if the passenger is your spouse. If it is a first-time rider, he or she may decide to never fly again and may actively work against airports and little airplanes. A number of the "Stop the Noise" anti-airport folks have stories of flying in a little airplane and being frightened by an arrogant or sadistic pilot. If the passenger is your spouse or child—the most important people in your life—you are telling them, through your actions, that when they are in a position of no control you will consciously do something that scares the $#@! out of them. So don't act puzzled because your spouse or kids are not excitedly leaping up to go flying with you when the opportunity is offered.

When carrying a passenger, do what you can to avoid running a tank dry. On those very rare occasions where you need to do so—it had better be rare otherwise something is really wrong with your flight planning—let your passengers know well in advance. Tell them what is going to happen. Explain why. Then, when the engine first coughs, change tanks right away. Get it running smoothly again and apologize to them for the power interruption, for doing something that scared them.

Not Telling Your Passengers What's Going On

Remember when you were a kid going to the doctor’s office and there were all those terrifying instruments on in the examining rooms? You didn’t know what they were, but you knew about shots and that other stuff—the clamps, and gauze and black cuff thing—had to be bad and probably hurt. Passengers tell me that virtually everything in a little airplane and its operations are without compare to what they have experienced in life. Cars don’t move in the third dimension and are one heck of a lot quieter inside. Then, when they’ve been riding along for a while and have gotten used to how things normally are, the pilot does something different—such as use more flaps on takeoff and pull up at a much steeper angle or starts demanding things from an air traffic controller or flies through clouds that are terribly bumpy rather than fly around them—and the uncertainty, discomfort and fear show up once again, front and center.

When I’ve listened to passengers tell me what concerns them about flying, I also think about the pilots I know who hate riding as passengers, especially in the back seat—out of reach of the controls. Not surprisingly, the issue boils down to the lack of control felt by the passenger on top of not knowing what is going on and why. The extra flap on takeoff question came after a flight the couple had made into a short strip with obstructions. The pilot had, correctly and safely, followed the short-field takeoff procedure for the airplane. He didn’t tell his wife what he was going to do and what to expect. It didn’t help that he snapped at her when she asked him about it afterward.

While there are portions of any flight that demand the pilot’s full attention and the sterile cockpit rule applies, when carrying passengers pilots shouldn't sit mute. There’s time to explain what is going to happen before it does—before the runup, takeoff, climb, power changes … you get the idea. Following flights with first-time passengers I’ve had several tell me that the brief explanations of what was going to happen next lowered their apprehension levels significantly.

So talk. It's not necessary to explain how to make a watch when your passenger simply wants to know the time. Before the flight, provide an estimate of the length of the flight, what the potty break and food situation will be. It doesn't hurt to make the estimate about 15 minutes longer than the flight will really take—then your passengers are happy that you arrived early.

Mention that you are doing the runup to make sure everything is working correctly before you take off. Keep it positive; your passengers will love you for your caution and concern for their well-being. For crying out loud, don't say you are looking for something to break. Explain briefly why you are using a checklist—yes, I've had passengers tell me that they thought it was because I didn't know what I was doing. (OK, there are several possible comebacks to that remark; I'll let them all pass.)

Tell your passengers that the nose will be up kind of high during the climb and that it is necessary to bank the airplane to make a normal turn—while it seems basic, new passengers don’t know that and may be convinced that the airplane is going to turn over. The noise level will change when you level off and set cruise power—let them know it's coming. Communicate with your passengers, not just with ATC; although from a safety standpoint, do as you usually do and follow the “aviate, navigate, communicate” priority hierarchy.

Taking Risks with Passengers

I’ve heard spouses express fury over things the flying spouse would do in an airplane with the family aboard. The examples I heard included flying at low altitudes over large bodies of water without any flotation devices in the airplane, buzzing someone or something, flying with a radio inoperative or with a weak mag or low on fuel. To me as a pilot, flying on a nice VFR day with one of two radios inoperative is no big deal, but passengers don’t know that it’s no big deal. Passenger spouses have told me that the message they got from the husband-pilot who flew with inop equipment or minimum fuel or a rough mag was that he didn't care about his family's well-being.

The points non-pilots made to me over the years were pretty clear: If it's not working, get it fixed before you take up a passenger. Make sure everyone has clothing enough for an extra day if the airplane breaks and has to be repaired. If you are flying over water, carry flotation gear; have appropriate survival equipment for your route. It's all a matter of control—the passenger has none other than to refuse to fly. If you are willing to fly an airplane in questionable mechanical condition—and your passenger considers anything that is not working as significant although pilots may not have that point of view—then don't be the least bit surprised when your passengers are unwilling to fly with you a second time.


Years ago I flew with a pilot whose wife had said was a “fiddler” and it drove her nuts. It was true. In level flight he couldn't sit still. He was constantly futzing with this, adjusting that and tapping on the other thing. He couldn’t stop tweaking the mixture, often to the point of causing the engine to run rough or cut out. After about 15 minutes of it, I just want to smack him. While sitting there, I was reminded of pilots who have told me that they try to impress their passengers by constantly adjusting things, so they can see how on top of the terribly difficult world of flight their pilot is. Passengers aren’t impressed by fiddling. They want well-enough left alone. To them a pilot who fidgets and fiddles causes anxiety. Once something's set, unless it's broken, don't mess with it. You keep your passengers more comfortable if you set things and let them be for the remainder of the flight (or at least into the descent) if possible.

Try something: On your next cross-country flight with a passenger, see if you can sit still—other than scanning for traffic—for two minutes. If you feel compelled to touch a power control or play with the GPS, you're one of those who transmits a sense of unease to your passengers.


Passengers despise and fear turbulence. Pilots get used to it and often don't notice it. There is a major disconnect between pilots and passengers on this topic, especially when dealing with headwinds. Most pilots will willingly fly low to avoid headwinds and accept turbulence as a consequence.

I'll spell this out as clearly as I can: Your passengers would willingly wring your neck if you choose turbulence over a smooth ride. While the flight lasts a shorter period of time down low, in lighter winds, the full story is that time is relative. A one-hour flight in the bumps is far longer to your passengers than a 1.5-hour flight in smooth air. Yes, it costs more for the airplane rental to go slower, but that's not an expression of the total price you are paying for your decision to make your passengers miserable.

Not only do you as the pilot flying not feel the pure physical discomfort of turbulence as intensely as a passenger—even a pilot who is a passenger—turbulence is scary because it very often feels to the passenger as if the airplane is about to go out of control. I'm not kidding. When you took your first few lessons, turbulence scared you when it rolled the airplane without you doing anything to the controls. With time and experience, you learned what to do and have gotten so used to turbulence that you've forgotten what that felt like in the beginning. That very early stage of your learning is where your passengers are now. Do your utmost to find smooth air when you are carrying passengers, especially those who are the most important to you in the world, your family.

Weather Decisions

A fair number of passengers have told me that they don’t like flying in little airplanes in weather where they can’t see anything out of the window of the airplane—in clouds. They are uncomfortable if they can't see the ground or a vista of clouds. If you are going to be in actual instrument conditions, say so ahead of time and give a brief explanation about what to expect. I've had some pilot friends indicate that their spouses were so uncomfortable with being in clouds that they always flew VFR with them, even if it meant delaying a departure for a couple of days. Those marriages seem to last—and the spouses are still riding along as passengers.

One of the best axioms of military aviation is, "There is no excuse to fly through a thunderstorm in peacetime." Even the most aeronautically naļve passenger knows that thunderstorms are horribly powerful monsters that can destroy houses and airplanes. You know better than to fly through a boomer when solo—there's no reason to subject passengers to one.

Ice worries passengers in varying degrees. Some know how truly treacherous it is, but even those who don't will be curious about why the windshield became opaque, the wings look like a freezer that needs to be defrosted and you are suddenly sweating even though it's cool in the cabin.

Out of consideration to passengers, make weather decisions even more conservatively than when you are flying alone. Hey, the airlines and corporate pilots do all they can to give a wide berth to weather because they want repeat business from their passengers. Running your private flight department in such a way as to cause passengers to want to come back for more is sure to make any good capitalist happy, even though you aren't charging for the flights.

Little Things Mean a Lot

Your passengers do not like a dirty airplane. They don't know how to evaluate the safety and condition of the airplane, so they use cleanliness as a measuring device. (Just like you do when wondering whether an unfamiliar maintenance shop is any good: You look to see if the floor is clean. You've learned that it's a pretty good indication of the overall quality of the shop.) If it's a rental, demand that the FBO provide you with a clean airplane. You're paying the bill. Plus, part of a 100-hour and an annual inspection is to wash the airplane. If it's your airplane, clean out the gum wrappers and soda cans and used tissues.

Respect the fact that some people get motion sickness. The victim honestly doesn't want to be sick. He or she isn't doing it to spite you. Being sick is no fun at all. If you can do something about it, you're a hero. Have sick sacks available. Land before the heave-ho takes place—tolerance increases if you do so; it goes down if the person actually does the technicolor yawn. If the person is a regular passenger—you know, a family member—make a determined effort to see if any of the airsickness remedies will work for the person involved. Our family has had great success with the ReliefBand. It’s pricy, but for the family members who had previously been miserable, price wasn’t the first concern. You'll be amazed at how grateful a family member will be when you get something that helps with motion sickness.

If you were in a situation where you badly needed to use a restroom, none was available and the person in charge refused to do anything to help you out, how would you feel? Would you willingly place yourself into that situation again? So be considerate of your passengers. Carry piddle packs of some sort. Keep flights short enough that they don't have to be used; it's embarrassing for any passenger called upon to use one.

In the little thing department: Keep the black humor among pilots; don't use it on passengers. The "cheated death again" comment some pilots seem to need to make after a flight has scared passengers out of flying again. They don't know it's not true. I've heard passengers say how much they hate it that their spouses habitually say it after a flight—especially when they thought it was a nice flight, so there may have been something really bad that happened and they had just lucked out and landed safely.  


Student pilot training programs don’t provide much information on the care, feeding and comfort of passengers. I’m of the firm opinion that we’d have many more willing and happy general aviation passengers if pilots were more attuned to keeping their passengers comfortable and avoiding doing things that scare them. Be solicitous of them, recognize that it’s scary to be suspended way up in the air in a little, tiny machine, communicate with them and, as the placard on the panel of my friend’s Stearman says, “Don’t Do Anything Stupid.”

Rick Durden is a CFII, holds and ATP with type ratings in the Douglas DC-3 and Cessna Citation and is the author of The Thinking Pilot’s Flight Manual or, How to Survive Flying Little Airplanes and Have a Ball Doing It, Vols. 1 & 2.

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Restored Memphis Belle Moved to Dayton Museum
Joy Finnegan


The fabled World War II bomber Memphis Belle has been moved into its new home at an Ohio museum after years of restoration work. However, it won’t go on public display until next month. The Dayton Daily News reports the aircraft famously decorated with nose art of a pinup girl was towed Wednesday into the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force in Dayton.

It’s one of the most celebrated American planes to survive the war. Captain Robert K. Morgan's crew flew 29 combat missions with the 324th Bomb Squadron, all but four in the Memphis Belle. It flew over occupied France and Germany and was one of the first United States Army Air Forces B-17 heavy bombers to complete 25 combat missions with her crew intact.

It then weathered decades on display outdoors in Memphis, Tennessee, before being moved to Ohio in 2005. It will be unveiled at the museum May 17, the 75th anniversary of its crew’s 25th and final mission. Curator Jeff Duford says visitors will be able to get up close to the aircraft. The aircraft and its crew inspired both a documentary film and a feature film in 1990.

The aircraft was named after pilot Robert K Morgan's sweetheart, Margaret Polk, a resident of Memphis, Tennessee, and was known for its pinup girl nose art designed by Esquire Magazine artist George Petty.

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NASA Accepting Applications for Mission Control
Joy Finnegan

NASA says it’s hiring a new round of flight directors to oversee U.S. human spaceflight for the upcoming Orion missions and the International Space Station, responsible for the success of missions and the highly trained teams of engineers and scientists that make them possible.

"Flight directors play a critical role in the success of our nation's human spaceflight missions," says Brian Kelly, director of Flight Operations at Johnson. "The job is tough, the responsibilities are immense, and the challenges can seem insurmountable. But the experiences and personal rewards are incredible."

Those chosen will lead human spaceflight missions involving the International Space Station, including integrating American-made commercial crew spacecraft into the fleet of vehicles servicing the orbiting laboratory, and Orion missions to the moon and beyond.

They will head teams of flight controllers, research and engineering experts, and support personnel around the world, and make the real-time decisions critical to keeping NASA astronauts safe in space.

To apply, flight director candidates must be U.S. citizens with a bachelor's degree from an accredited institution in engineering, biological science, physical science, computer science or mathematics. They also will need substantial related, progressively responsible professional experience, including time-critical decision-making experience in high-stress, high-risk environments. Although many flight directors have previously been NASA flight controllers, it is not a prerequisite to apply.

Qualifying U.S. citizens have until April 17 to submit their applications here.

NASA says it expects to announce final selections in mid-2018.

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Piedmont and K-State Offer Pilot Training
Joy Finnegan

If any doubt remains that the aviation industry is facing a shortage of pilots, look no further than a new program for aspiring pilots at Kansas State University Polytechnic Campus with partner Piedmont Airlines. Teaming together, the two ­­­­­are offering help with tuition and a job guarantee at the regional airline.

The program is associated with the university’s Salina, Kansas, campus, and administrators are scheduled to meet with prospective students for the program in mid-April. They will select students in the school's professional pilot program who have their CFI certificate.

“Students accepted into the cadet program after an interview process can receive tuition reimbursement once they have completed 500 hours of flight time. They receive a financial incentive with every 100 hours of completed flight time after that, up to 1,000 hours,” says an article in the Wichita Eagle last week. “At that 1,000-hours mark, students are eligible for graduation as well as their Airline Transport Pilot rating, and guaranteed a spot in Piedmont's next new hire training class,” Ben Jaffee, senior assistant chief flight instructor at K-State, said in the article.

Piedmont, a wholly owned subsidiary of American Airlines Group Inc., also provides through its cadet program a guaranteed job path to American Airlines once student pilots are ready to transition in their career.

Students who have earned their certified flight instructor rating and have been accepted into Piedmont Airlines' cadet program, following an interview process, are eligible to receive tuition reimbursement after the completion of 500 hours of flight time, a press release on the Kansas State website explains. The program provides a financial incentive for every 100 hours achieved thereafter until completing the Airline Transport Pilot minimums required. Once a certified flight instructor attains these minimums, he or she will join Piedmont Airlines as a first officer with a guaranteed job at American Airlines in about five years.

"Kansas State Polytechnic is excited to be teaming up with an organization that is invested in the long-term success of our students," said Jaffee. "This partnership gives professional pilot students a direct connection with industry, additional financial support and a defined career route even before graduating. We want to provide our students with the best educational experience possible and this new opportunity enriches the value of what our degree program has to offer." More info about the program can be found on their website:

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