Virtual On line
June 22, 2020
June 22, 2020
June 26, 2021
In 2017 the Aviation Faculty at a college in the eastern United States began discussing the importance of increasing the depth of technical content for their aviation administration students. This topic was later revised to address an applied learning mandate by the college. The purpose of this paper is to share the lessons learned in acquiring and implementing an Air Traffic Control Simulator to help address these educational issues, and the steps taken in creating an Air Traffic Management course that would utilize this technology. The newly created course would give students a better technical understanding of how the National Airspace System (NAS) and Air Traffic Control (ATC) works, with the objective to help them be better decision makers in their future jobs. The course goes beyond traditional delivery methods by using simulation as a tool to apply the pedagogy of experiential learning, which Dewey  defines as students learning by doing. The simulation-based lessons aim to enhance the concepts of managing air traffic by allowing students to experience the role of an air traffic controller. The lessons utilizing the simulator’s air traffic scenarios provide students with hands-on experience, giving them the opportunity to creatively experiment with solutions while learning to solve problems, described by Kolb and Kolb  as the basis of learning. The opportunity to purchase the simulator originated from an auction held to liquidate the property of a previous higher education institution. Since purchasing auctioned items was atypical at the college, this required creative solutions on the administrative side. Additionally, the computers running the simulator exceeded 10 years, so the primary value of the purchase was in the ATC software licenses and furniture forming the mockup of a tower cab, radar room, pseudo-pilot stations, and touch screen monitors. Despite a need for new computers, it was determined worthwhile pursuing since a new system of similar capability would likely exceed $1,000,000. Additional meetings were held to determine how the simulator would be acquired, installed and integrated within the curriculum. Three paths emerged during this phase of the project. The academic path required the faculty to develop the course and curriculum change proposal for it to become a requirement within the programs. The Aviation Department Chair had to petition the FAA to recognize the course for the FAA’s R-ATP. Additionally, the course was ultimately designated as an “applied learning” course for aviation students pursuing a degree in Aviation Administration, meaning that the course also had to satisfy college’s applied learning requirements. The second path involved coordination of technical aspects. This involved locating space on an already cramped campus and coordinate electrical upgrades, air conditioning, equipment transport, and computer installation. The funding path addressed the bid, room modification costs, transport costs for breakdown, delivery, setup, and computer and equipment purchases. The implementation of the simulation-based Air Traffic Management course was successful, which started running fall 2019. Valuable lessons learned from this project are discussed, which include the importance of institutional support, leadership and communication among departments, and project management.
Lindenfeld, M., & Scala, L. A. (2020, June), Acquiring and Implementing an Air Traffic Control Simulator in a Higher Education Aviation Program Paper presented at 2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual On line . 10.18260/1-2--34088
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