LeTourneau University To Offer Two- And Four-Year Courses
The Federal Aviation Administration is looking to hire 17,000
new air traffic controllers in the next decade. To help meet this
need, LeTourneau University in Longview, TX was recently approved
by the FAA to participate in the Air Traffic Collegiate Training
Initiative (CTI) program. LETU is the only university in the state
of Texas approved to prepare and train students interested in a
career as an air traffic controller.
"I've heard them say that being an air traffic controller is
like playing chess or Pac-Man in three dimensions -- only losing is
not an option," said Sean Fortier, professor and chairman of LETU's
Department of Applied Aviation Science in its School of
Aeronautical Science. "High school students who are mature,
responsible and are really good with video games and visualizing
things in three dimensions would be good candidates for this
lucrative career. It takes someone with great attention to detail,
ability to focus and handle challenges."
FAA acting administrator Robert Sturgell said schools with this
CTI program provide an excellent jump start into a challenging
career. "These institutions will give thousands of future
controllers an inside track on a great career," Sturgell said. The
FAA has hired 5,000 new controllers over the past three years, with
plans to hire more than 2,000 in fiscal year 2009.
LeTourneau University will begin offering this new program in
the fall of 2009 when it opens its new 55,500 square-foot facility
at the East Texas Regional Airport near Longview, surrounded by the
picturesque piney woods of East Texas. The air traffic control
training program can be completed in a four-year bachelor's degree
program, or in a two-year associate's degree program.
In the four-year degree program option, students earn a Bachelor
of Science in Air Traffic Management, which includes business
management courses with air traffic control coursework. The
bachelor's degree program lays a solid foundation for students to
later move into management in their future careers with the
The two-year program is an Associate of Science in Air Traffic
Control which includes air traffic control training like the
four-year program does, but lacks the management coursework and
general education coursework necessary for a bachelor's degree.
Those who opt for the two-year program are encouraged to continue
their college education to complete their bachelor's degrees once
employed with the FAA through LETU's online degree programs for
Jon Weber, senior admissions counselor for LETU's School of
Aeronautical Science, said students coming straight out of high
school or straight out of the military in their early to mid-20s
are prime candidates for the ATC-CTI program.
"This program is great for that
certain kind of student who sees a lot of hurdles to getting into
an aviation career, whether it's the flight training costs or costs
of tuition," Weber said. "With this degree and acceptance by the
FAA, you make a competitive salary and work in aviation every day.
But it's not an easy program. Students might look at a two-year
degree and think that means it's easy, but that's not the case.
"It's a rigorous academic program requiring discipline, hand-eye
coordination, maturity and technical skills, as well as
adaptability to changes, like changing weather conditions, and the
ability to multi-task and focus despite distractions. Students who
are comfortable with constant changes in technology will be at a
LeTourneau University alumnus Paul Diffenderfer, 52, started his
career as an air traffic controller in 1983. Today, he oversees the
training of new air traffic controllers for the FAA.
"It's been a very challenging career," he said. "I've always
enjoyed the aviation industry, and it's a great job within that
industry. It's a very secure job, especially during hard economic
times. Pilot jobs came and went, but I've always had a steady job.
It's not for everyone. To be good at it, you really have to work at
it. You have to practice perfection. No mistakes.
"One of LeTourneau's hallmarks as a university is in growing
students in integrity with a strong spiritual background and
discipline," he said. "One other aspect is the technology side.
Aviation continues a progression to more and more technologically
advanced systems. That requires technological savvy and