Students at Atlantic Cape Community College will have a new degree option come January – an air traffic control degree. The associate’s degree program is open to anyone and will be the only air traffic control program offered in New Jersey.
Applications are currently being accepted for the first class. Graduates of the program will be eligible to take the FAA’s Air Traffic Selection and Training exam, which is a prerequisite to admission to the FAA national training academy in Oklahoma. Students are required to meet the minimum standards for FAA air traffic control training programs including age, English proficiency and medical standards. Additionally, the students must be U.S. Citizens and pass a stringent TSA background investigation.
According to a college official, the school hopes to enroll as many as 150 students in the program and they will have six courses ready in January. The program, which culminates in an associate’s degree, consists of several general study courses such as writing, public speaking, math, and science as well as air traffic control courses such as aviation weather and control tower operations.
The college president stated that they modeled the program after existing programs. They will be installing a $325,500 control tower simulation system as well as offering students the ability to obtain a pilot’s certificate. He said the program is intended to provide workers for the William J. Hughes FAA Technical Center and the Next Generation Aviation Research Park which are near the school.
Air traffic control is an essential aspect of the aviation industry in the US that is currently undergoing an expensive modernization. With as many as half the current air traffic controllers set to retire over the next decade, thanks to mandatory retirement, graduates of programs like this are needed to prevent controller shortages that could cripple the current system. Additionally, students in these programs will be needed to bridge the gap between the old system an the new in order to see the smoothest possible transition.