Parks College: From Aviation to Engineering

Jan 31, 2013 Full story: The University News

The Parks College of Engineering, Aviation and Technology began as the humble Parks Air College, started by an ambitious Chevrolet salesman who found the quality of aviation education in his era to be lacking.

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Collinsville, IL

#1 Feb 1, 2013

Collinsville, IL

#2 Feb 1, 2013
As computers and digital networks continued to advance, the Cahokia campus had to find a way to upgrade their buildings in order to stay up-to-date in terms of technological standards. Further, Parks students were starting to complain that Frost Campus students had more access to better facilities for the same tuition price.

“We either had to close the place, invest a lot of money there and bring it up to speed, or kind of take advantage of everything that was already [on Frost Campus],” Kirkpatrick said. President Lawrence Biondi, S.J. and the Parks administrators decided to begin searching for a new building to house the engineering college. They settled on purchasing a rundown motel a block east of Grand Boulevard, now the location of McDonnel-Douglas Hall.

“The rotunda area was sort of the lobby of a really seedy motel,” Kirkpatrick said.“It was something the University sort of had on their radar for a while.”

The construction on the building began on the state-of-the-art facility, and in 1997, Parks College of Engineering, Aviation and Technology officially moved from Cahokia to its new home on the Frost Campus.

An increase of enrollment followed the move due to the appeal of a new facility to incoming students, and the proximity to the rest of SLU’s campus, which opened new avenues for inter-disciplinary work at the university.

Parks continued to flourish, developing stronger relationships with the engineering and aviation industries and building a stronger research culture at the college.

Newslink updates concerning achievements amongst Parks undergraduates serve to reinforce Kirkpatrick’s faith in their decision to move the school.

“Every once in a while I see things that make me think,‘Well, that worked.’ And that’s all you can hope for,” Kirkpatrick said.

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