|Air traffic control program ranked No. 1 in nation|
UND's Air Traffic Control Training (ATC) program has been ranked number one after the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) completed their evaluation of 33 Air Traffic Collegiate Training Initiative (AT-CTI) schools. UND’s program currently has over 300 students enrolled in the air traffic control degree program. Program co-directors Paul Drechsel and Craig Carlson stated, “The rankings are a validation of all the hard work that the ATC staff has put into the program.” Some of the comments offered by the FAA evaluators about the UND ATC program were, “leadership demonstrates full understanding of AT-CTI program,” “impressive list of professional affiliations,” “excellent faculty performance,” and “teaching ability, experience, and expertise.” This was backed up by “excellent well structured curriculum and programs” with “excellent facilities and equipment.” Other ATC personnel at UND include instructors Gary Bartelson, Bill Schroeder, and Dale Raatz.
The 33 schools were evaluated on three components. The first component evaluated the areas of leadership, goals, objectives, program alignment, scope of participation and location, along with resources, student support, and capacity. The second component was comprised of accreditation, student selection process, external relations, outreach and recruitment. The final component evaluated curriculum and facilities, including curriculum and programs, facilities and equipment, student assessment and testing, along with aviation program instructors, staff, and management.
The Department of Aviation was founded in 1968 with a degree in airways sciences. In the 1970’s an Introduction to Air Traffic Control course was offered. The ATC program was first proposed in 1991 when a Non-Financial Air Traffic Control Proposal was sent to the FAA in response to the “ATC Demonstration Project Proposal.” The UND Aerospace Foundation (UNDAF) was then tasked to develop a virtual radar simulation that became the ATC 2000 simulator. These 10 radar simulators were made available for all aviation students to learn the basics of ATC within the aviation curriculum. After joining the AT-CTI program in 1991, the overall vision was to make the AT-CTI Program at UND “the best of the best.”
Bruce Smith was appointed dean of the Odegard School in 1999. One of his first steps in his position was to utilize UNDAF to secure advanced tower and radar simulations to prepare graduates for the FAA Academy. This goal was accomplished in 2001 with the purchase of a 225-degree 3D virtual tower and eight radar (terminal and en route) positions. With the School’s rising enrollment of ATC students, the department was awarded a 360-degree 3D tower simulator including four integrated radar positions in 2003. Currently, along with classroom instruction, the program utilizes three air traffic control simulators.
-- Karen Ryba, director of communications, aerospace, email@example.com, 701-777-4761