John D. Odegard School of Aerospace Sciences

News and information from the UND John D. Odegard School of Aerospace Sciences.

UND ATC Program Ranked #1 in Nation


John D. Odegard School of Aerospace Sciences
Contact: Karen Ryba/Phone: 701-777-4761
November 19, 2007

University of North Dakota’s Air Traffic Control Program Ranked #1 in Nation

(Grand Forks, North Dakota): The University of North Dakota’s (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 majors 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 an “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 was Organizational Foundation and Resources which 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”.

Dr. Bruce Smith was appointed Dean of the John D. Odegard School of Aerospace Sciences 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.

In August 2005, under the ATC divisional leadership of Craig Carlson and Paul Drechsel, the latest ATC training simulator was purchased. The new radar simulators (purchased through the Aviation department) have 32 controller and assist positions, including voice recognition software.

As shown in the past, the UND AT-CTI program has always strived to remain at the ‘cutting-edge’ of curriculum development, hands-on training and simulator technology. UND’s visions of the future include utilizing technology such as the UND Aerospace Laptop Program to provide students with radar and tower simulator software. This new laptop software would allow every AT-CTI student the ability to run simulations outside of the classroom. Other plans include a stand-alone User Request Evaluation Tool (URET) simulator. This simulator would allow students to familiarize themselves with en-route software tools. Additional strategies for the Department of Aviation are to find increasingly efficient methods of training AT-CTI applicants through new teaching methods, new training and simulator technology.

About UND Aerospace:
UND Aerospace, which includes the Odegard School of Aerospace Sciences at the University of North Dakota and the UND Aerospace Foundation (UNDAF), is an international leader in collegiate and contract aviation education and training services flying over 100,000 hours per year in over 120 aircraft. UNDAF also has facilities in Spokane, Washington, with Spokane Falls Community College; Lumberton, North Carolina, with Robeson Community College; Phoenix, Arizona, in conjunction with Chandler-Gilbert Community College; Williston, North Dakota, with Williston State College; and Crookston, Minnesota, with the University of Minnesota in addition to its home-base in Grand Forks, North Dakota. With more than 2,000 students from throughout the world, the John D. Odegard School of Aerospace Sciences is the second largest college at the University of North Dakota. Undergraduate and graduate programs leading to a variety of rewarding careers in aerospace are offered through five different academic departments: aviation, atmospheric sciences, computer science, earth system science and policy, and space studies. The UND Aerospace training complex is the most technologically advanced environment for aerospace education, training and research in the world.

In 2008, UND Aerospace will be celebrating its 40th anniversary. A series of regional alumni gatherings will be held across the country, as well as several events during UND’s Homecoming and 125th anniversary on October 13-18. For an updated listing of events, see or

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