Inside Discovery Hall: Industrial technology jobs in high demand

Aviation Systems Management

The sky’s not even the limit for students in this high-demand area.

Lopers soar to new heights in UNK’s aviation systems management program, which prepares students for a variety of careers in the aviation industry.

One of just two schools in the state with an aviation program, UNK’s Bachelor of Science degree in aviation systems management includes a core grouping of aviation, technical and business courses, as well as a choice of two emphasis areas – flight operations and aviation support services.

The flight operations emphasis trains students who want to be commercial pilots. After completing the degree requirements, they have the opportunity to earn a private pilot’s license, as well as pursue instrument, commercial, multi-engine and flight instructor certificates and ratings.

UNK students receive first-rate instruction through a flight school located at Kearney Regional Airport, with additional training available on the Redbird flight simulator located in Discovery Hall.

The aviation support services emphasis leads to careers such as air traffic controller, airport manager, aviation insurance representative and Federal Aviation Administration inspector.

Career Opportunities
  • Commercial/charter pilot
  • Air traffic controller
  • Federal Aviation Administration inspector
  • Airport manager
  • Aircraft sales
  • Aviation insurance representative
  • Flight instructor
  • Aerial photographer
  • Flight operations
  • Aerial application
  • U.S. Border Patrol, military or law enforcement pilot
  • Dispatch and communications
Job placement rate: 100%
Salary potential: Experienced pilots can earn well over $100,000 a year at larger airlines
Number of faculty: 2
Student enrollment: 67

“It’s really cool to get out and see the country – and get paid to do it. The connections you make here at Kearney and the networking you have a chance to be part of will serve you well into the future. If anybody is living proof of that I certainly am, and a lot of my classmates are, too.”
Jason Hughes, pilot, Southwest Airlines
2002 UNK graduate

Related story: UNK aviation program filling sky-high demand for pilots

Construction Management

UNK’s construction management program helps students build a successful career by providing a strong technical and managerial foundation for all sectors of the industry.

The program focuses on communication, organization and leadership, as well as the techniques and processes that prepare students for jobs in residential, commercial, industrial and heavy civil construction. Students learn in hands-on environments and classes focused on today’s industry standards.

A required internship puts students in an actual work environment where they experience the construction process and practice what they learned in the classroom. UNK also helps students establish industry connections by providing opportunities to network with professionals in the field through career fairs, company showcases, community service projects and trips to regional and national conferences.

Career Opportunities
  • Project manager
  • Project engineer
  • Plant operator
  • Foreman
  • Project superintendent
  • Estimator
  • Field engineer

UNK graduates work for construction companies across the state and country, including:

  • Beckenhauer Construction (Norfolk)
  • Paulsen Inc. (Cozad)
  • BD Construction (Kearney)
  • Hausmann Construction (Lincoln)
  • JE Dunn Construction (Kansas City)
  • Kiewit (Omaha)
  • PulteGroup (Atlanta)
  • Sampson Construction (Lincoln and Kearney)
  • PENTA Building Group (Las Vegas)
  • Chief Construction (Grand Island)
Job placement rate: 100%
Average starting salary: $61,000
Number of faculty: 3
Student enrollment: 73

“Our firm is not shy about discussing the quality of the students enrolled at and graduating from UNK, particularly those graduating from the construction management program. The UNK students we have hired show up on top of their game, chock-full of the knowledge, creativity and skills necessary to help them excel on dynamic commercial projects. We attribute these observations to the programming and the internship UNK requires for graduation.”
Chad Wiles, vice president, Hausmann Construction

Related story: UNK construction management building strong reputation

Industrial Distribution

UNK is a national leader in the industrial distribution field, offering a specialized program that prepares students for careers in technical sales and management.

The UNK program has a 100% job placement rate, a reflection of its quality and strong reputation within the industrial, manufacturing and construction industries, as well as the high demand for workers in this area.

Industrial distribution majors receive professional, technical, communication and leadership training while gaining the scientific, product and industry knowledge needed to excel in their careers. Program curriculum was developed with input from leaders in manufacturing and distribution, and includes an emphasis on six key areas: agriculture, chemical and pharmaceutical, electrical, instruments, mechanical equipment and supplies, and medical.

UNK’s industrial distribution program enjoys a strong relationship with its advisory board and partner companies, which include Winsupply, Consolidated Electrical Distributors, Womack Machine Supply, Cummins Sales and Service, Parker Hannifin, Applied Industrial Technology, North American Plastics and Ferguson Enterprises.

Career Opportunities

Graduates work for manufacturers and distributors across the world, supplying businesses with the inventory and tools they need to operate. You can find them in a variety of industries, from agriculture, automotive and aerospace to electronics, fluid power and health care.

Industrial distribution is a great career path for students who enjoy working with others and want the freedom that comes with getting out of the office, meeting new people and solving problems.

A degree from UNK leads straight to full-time industry sales and management positions for most industrial distribution majors. A vast majority of those students receive job offers prior to graduation, with both local and nationwide opportunities.

Job placement rate: 100%
Average starting salary: $56,000, not including commission and profit sharing
Number of faculty: 3
Student enrollment: 88

“UNK industrial distribution is a very well-respected program and a lot of the students who have come out of that program and become professionals in this field are really carrying their weight. There aren’t a whole lot of other schools that are able to do what UNK is able to do with that program.”
Brett Douglas, owner and president, Kearney Winnelson
2014 UNK graduate

Related story: UNK program a well-known commodity for industrial distributors

Interior and Product Design

UNK’s interior and product design program prepares students for professional practice in interior design, with additional emphasis in residential kitchen and bath design, advancing technologies and evidence-based design.

The program utilizes innovative teaching and experiential learning opportunities to foster a global perspective and ensure graduates are innovators of design in their future careers.

UNK’s interior and product design program is accredited by the Council for Interior Design Accreditation. Graduates meet the educational requirements to sit for the National Council for Interior Design Qualification exam.

Career Opportunities
  • Kitchen and bath designer
  • Commercial interior designer
  • Residential interior designer
  • Health care designer
  • Hospitality designer
  • Lighting designer
  • Retail and display designer
Job placement rate: 100%
Average starting salary: $31,000
Number of faculty: 3
Student enrollment: 50

“I discovered my love for design through UNK’s interior design program. I chose UNK because of the small class sizes and close relationships with faculty. They were always easy to talk to and they made the effort to connect with each student in a unique way. I also loved that the program required an internship, because it allowed me to try this career in the real world. I started working at Holland Basham Architects in June 2019 as a full-time interior designer. If it wasn’t for UNK and the interior design faculty, I would not have my dream job today.”
Ally Dohse, interior designer, Holland Basham Architects
2019 UNK graduate