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Acquiring and Implementing an Air Traffic Control Simulator in a Higher Education Aviation Program

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2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access


Virtual On line

Publication Date

June 22, 2020

Start Date

June 22, 2020

End Date

June 26, 2021

Conference Session

Flight and Control Simulators for Virtual Learning

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Paper Authors


Meron Lindenfeld Farmingdale State College, State University of New York

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Meron Lindenfeld has been teaching in aviation since 2004, and has been with the full-time aviation faculty at Farmingdale State College since 2017. Over his years of teaching, Dr. Lindenfeld has exercised his FAA AGI and IGI privileges in Part 141 ground school courses, covering private pilot, instrument, commercial and multi-engine content. Dr. Lindenfeld also teaches courses in aviation history, airport management, and aviation safety, and aviation law. He has a strong interest in simulation technology to enhance aviation courses, and continues to explore innovative methods that help students gain proficiency and confidence as they move forward in their education and training. He continues to explore the use of instructional technology researching simulation in aviation education. Dr. Lindenfeld’s educational background includes a BS in Aeronautics, a MS in Education, and an EdD in Educational Administration, Leadership, and Technology.

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Louis A. Scala Farmingdale State College, State University of New York

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Professor Louis (Lou) Scala’s career in aviation began “back in the day” (1965) as a freshman at Aviation High School, in Long Island City, New York. At Aviation High School, he learned about the technology of aircraft and earned FAA Certification as an Airframe and Powerplant Mechanic. He continued his studies at the State University of New York Agricultural and Technical College (S.U.A.T.C.) in Farmingdale, New York, studying Aerospace Technology, following this by obtaining BS and MA degrees in Technical Education from New York University. Lou began his career as collegiate aviation educator at the Vaughn College of Aeronautics, as an aircraft maintenance technical instructor, and returned “home” to Farmingdale State College in 1982. During his tenure at FSC, Professor Lou, has taught many subjects related to aircraft and engine technology, the history of aviation, government regulations, airport planning, and airport operations. Of particular note, Professor Scala gained invaluable experience when he had the opportunity to shadow and be mentored by the FAA’s Eastern Region Airports Division Lead Airport Safety Certification Inspector, Mr. Vincent Cimino. Professor Scala is a Certified Member (C.M.) of the American Association of Airport Executives and has also earned Airport Certified Employee (ACE) credentials in Airport Operations. He is presently the faculty advisor of the FSC Chapter of the AAAE. Professor Scala is also an active member of the AAAE and Northeast Chapter of the AAAE, serving on their Academic Relations, Diversity, and Workforce Committees. Professor Lou has been instrumental in helping FSC students gain internships, scholarships to attend various AAAE and NECAAAE conferences, and has helped many FSC alumni enter the industry as airport operations coordinators. Professor Scala is married to Annabelle, a young woman he met at S.U.A.T.C., in 1970, is the father of three grown daughters—Jennifer, Joanna, and Tina, and is the proud grandfather of Wylde, Sea, Evie and Luca.

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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 [1] 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 [2] 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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