Indiana State University Newsroom

FedEx launches aviation scholarship at State

October 19, 2018

Indiana State University has received a $500,000 commitment from FedEx Express as one of six institutions selected to participate in the corporation's $2.5 million Purple Runway Aviation Scholarship program.

A subsidiary of FedEx Corp. (NYSE: FDX) and the world's largest express transportation company, FedEx Express created the scholarship program aimed at building the next generation of aviation professionals. FedEx has partnered with six universities and technical schools that provide education and training for aspiring pilots, aircraft maintenance technicians and other aviation professionals. 

Indiana State is set to receive $100,000 a year in scholarships for five years, with the first round of scholarships awarded fall 2019.

"We appreciate FedEx's support of our professional aviation flight technology undergraduate program at ISU," said Nesli Alp, dean of the College of Technology. "The FedEx Purple Runaway Aviation Scholarship program will benefit many of our students who want to become pilots or flight instructors."

Indiana State's professional aviation flight technology is an in-demand major and currently has more than 200 students enrolled.

"FedEx's generous support will help us train more pilots, who are desperately needed in the workforce," Alp said. "It is crucial for our students to continue their education and complete it with less or no debt. We are delighted to partner with FedEx on this important initiative and look forward to collaborating with them to support our students and faculty."

The $2.5 million in grants will go toward dedicated aviation scholarships at Indiana State, the University of Memphis, Delta State University, University of North Dakota, Tennessee College of Applied Technology and Arkansas State University Mid-South.

Professional aviation students incur additional costs for their education because of required flight fees, said Stephen McCaskey, interim chair of the aviation technology department at Indiana State.

"A remarkable scholarship opportunity such as the FedEx Purple Runway Aviation Scholarship will increase our flight instructor resources, allowing our program to increase enrollment for future student pilots," McCaskey said. "This financial opportunity for flight instructor and higher qualifications will result in more pilots being certified, which will help address the global pilot shortage crisis."

Kara Harris, associate dean of the College of Technology, celebrated the enhanced networking and professional development opportunities Sycamores will have.

"The partnership with FedEx is a great opportunity for our students, faculty and programs in the aviation department," Harris said. "This relationship will allow our students to engage with FedEx, while attending State. We are very proud of our students and the work ethic they exhibit in the program. This scholarship will allow us a way to assist those students in completing their college careers and allow them opportunities for future experiential learning with FedEx."

David Cunningham, president and CEO of FedEx Express, said the U.S. education system should sharpen its focus on preparing young people for the good-paying jobs in the aviation industry, which are needed to support growing international and domestic trade. 

"E-commerce is driving increasing demands on both air and ground transportation networks at a time when large numbers of workers in these fields are retiring or nearing retirement," Cunningham said. "We are working with schools to strengthen the pipeline of talented and diverse pilots, mechanics and other aviation professionals. The FedEx Purple Runway Aviation Scholarship helps lay that foundation for an individual to have a promising and successful career in the industry that FedEx Express created." 

The scholarship will also provide an immediate impact on the certification of future flight instructors, McCaskey said.

"This scholarship opportunity will have huge impact on our students' success by allowing them to advance to the certified flight instructor, instrument flight instructor and multi-engine flight instructor rating without delay of waiting on the funding from private sources or by their own means," McCaskey said. "Most of our students have financially exhausted the funding for their certificates required for the PAFT major and do not have the flight fees needed to advance as an instructor."

The FedEx Purple Runway Aviation Scholarship is an extension of the company's recently announced aviation pathways program Purple Runway - A FedEx Pathways Program that was announced April 2. This industry-leading pilot development program is designed to assist two FedEx Express feeder operators with the recruitment and retention of pilots who wish to develop their skills and experiences to eventually qualify for pilot opportunities at FedEx Express. More information is available at

FedEx Express is the world's largest express transportation company, providing fast and reliable delivery to more than 220 countries and territories. With annual revenues of $67 billion, FedEx Corp. offers integrated business solutions through operating companies competing collectively and managed collaboratively, under the respected FedEx brand.

Consistently ranked among the world's most admired and trusted employers, FedEx inspires its more than 425,000 team members to remain focused on safety, the highest ethical and professional standards and the needs of their customers and communities.


Photos: -- Stephen McCaskey, interim chair of the aviation technology department at Indiana State University, poses for a photograph at FedEx headquarters in Memphis. -- From left, Cris Perkins, Tennessee College of Applied Technology; Dr. Stephen McCaskey, Indiana State University; Dr. Debra West, Arkansas State University Mid-South; Bill West, FedEx Express; Tim Leonard, FedEx Express; Scott Ogden, FedEx Express; Kent Lovelace, University of North Dakota; Dr. Billy Moore, Delta State University; Dr. Joanne Gikas, University of Memphis; pose for a photograph at FedEx headquarters in Memphis.

Media contact: Libby Roerig, University Marketing, Indiana State University, 812-237-3790 or