During his 30 years of service in the U.S. Air Force, Dr. Fred Edwards’ job titles included Chief, Aircraft Maintenance Unit (AMU); Superintendent, Wing Maintenance Quality Assurance; and Superintendent, Wing Maintenance Operation Control. The proudest moment of his military career was leading his EF-111A AMU from their main operation base in the United Kingdom to Desert Storm. Twelve aircraft and 65 aircrew and support personnel deployed to Incirlik AB, Turkey where they provided Airborne Radar Observation and Warning support for the Joint Air Taskforce. For nearly two months, the AMU was recognized for its outstanding maintenance of the aircraft.
Upon USAF retirement, Dr. Edwards began his teaching career with the Boeing Company. For the next 15 years he taught commercial airplane maintenance courses on the B-707, B-757, B-767, B-787, and KC-46 (USAF Air Refueling Tanker). While working for The Boeing Company, he completed his Master of Science in Technical Management through Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. Dr. Edwards later received his Doctor of Philosophy in Education with an emphasis in Training and Development Leadership from NCU. His doctorate dissertation: Utilizing Advanced Media Technology: Aviation Maintenance Instructors’ Perceptions was completed in 2014. Currently, Dr. Edwards is retired and living in the Seattle, Washington area.
Dr. Edwards’ shares why he chose NCU, how he balanced family life, work and school, and his biggest source of inspiration as an NCU student.
1. Why did you decide to go back to school; what drew you to NCU?
NCU was recommended to me by one of my ERAU professors as a great university with flexible schedules. It did not require any in-residence time and was 100% online. While working for the Boeing Company, I frequently travelled around the world to teach airplane maintenance courses. As long as I could connect to the Internet, I could complete my assignments.
2. What was the best lesson you learned as an online student at NCU?
I have to say the best lesson was to get started on my assignments as soon as possible. It may seem above and beyond what is required, but my typical school week looked like this: Monday, review the week’s assignment and read any text book lessons. Tuesday through Thursday work on the assignment. Normally, I would take a break on Friday for family time. Saturday and /or Sunday, finish the assignment and submit it. On average, I spent 12-20 hours per week reading, writing, and thinking about my school work. I never did any school work while at my primary job. I thought that would be unethical.
3. How has the flexibility of NCU programs helped you balance family life, work, and school?
While pursuing my doctorate degree, and working full time, I promised my family I would not ignore them. Our grandson was an active ice hockey player and that required him to play games on the weekends with about half of the games out of town. After the games, when on the road, I would go back to the hotel room and do my school assignments. While working for the Boeing Company, again I would log on to the Internet, even when working in Tokyo, Japan. I set my mind to complete my school assignments, and I did it. My family understood the effort I was putting into my schoolwork. I appreciated their understanding.
4. What advice do you have for prospective students interested in enrolling in your same program at NCU?
Look ahead and plan for lots of work. Attaining a doctorate degree is very possible and doable, but it requires you to dedicate yourself to earning it. I don’t believe in “burning the midnight oil,” so get started early in the week and finish your assignment with time to spare. Some programs allow you to take two courses at once. If you are working full-time, I would discourage taking two courses at the same time.
5. Who is your biggest source of inspiration and why?
Without a doubt, Dr. Mary Dereshiwsky. She was my best professor at NCU and my second of three dissertation chairs. She was always very quick to turn around my assignments and my dissertation drafts. As I struggled with statistics, especially while temporarily working in Tokyo, Japan, Dr. Dereshiwsky encouraged me to read the text book and work hard to understand the assignment. I appreciated her patience and endurance with my lack of statistic skills and understanding.