By Sharon B. DeVivo, President and CEO of Vaughn College, as originally published in the June 3-16, 2024 issue of “Aviation Week”

Are you searching for new entry-level talent and thinking, “Where did everyone go?” The talent is there—you just need to know where to look and to make investments in relationships with institutions and organizations that ensure a long-term pipeline.

The COVID-19 pandemic seemed to change everything. In 2019, workforce demand was already beginning to challenge the industry, and then the world shut down. As we continue to emerge from the pandemic’s impacts and the lingering effects on the supply chain disruptions in both staffing and materials, unemployment is still low, and the face of the workforce is changing. According to the Congressional Budget Office, the U.S. workforce will grow older on average until 2054. And because the country’s population growth is slowing, immigrants will be a primary source of new workers.

When I speak to companies, I encourage them to look beyond their traditional methods for reaching the next generation of employees, particularly the colleges and training institutions that they typically use to fill their pipelines for everything from technicians to engineers. I suggest they look to underrepresented populations that have not been exposed to the life-changing trajectory a career in aviation and aerospace offers.

At institutions such as Vaughn College, a federally designated Hispanic-Serving Institution in New York City with more than 70% of students from underrepresented backgrounds as well as first-generation college students and first-generation Americans, students and families are eager for career pathways that provide long-term professional roads to achieving the American dream. The most significant barrier to reaching these students at an early age is awareness, closely followed by the financial means to afford the education and skills training to set them on those paths.

Across the country, Minority-Serving Institutions—including Historically Black Colleges, Hispanic-Serving Institutions, Asian American and Pacific Islander Institutions, and Tribal Colleges—are historically underfunded, despite the contributions they make. Nonetheless, these institutions produce incredible outcomes for the students they serve.

At Vaughn, 98% of students are employed or continuing their education within one year of graduation, 78% of them in their chosen field. Partnerships with industry—such as apprenticeships, internships and site visits—are the key to students’ success. One outside-the-box idea is the relationship Vaughn has with PSA Airlines, which provides financial and personnel support for the Aerospace Maintenance Competition (AMC) team. Over the past year, PSA staff personally coached our students, and we just had our best showing ever among 90 teams in the AMC at MRO Americas in Chicago. This type of engagement not only allows our students to grow their skill sets and to be better equipped when they join the industry, but it also allows our partners to see potential employees in action.

Another opportunity that goes beyond the traditional recruitment methods is an initiative kicked off this semester with longtime supporter Atlas Air and its Women’s Network in a semester-long mentorship program. Handpicked mentors from Atlas provided guidance, networking and site visits for students in a variety of sectors, such as law, finance and operations, and exposed students to aspects of an airline that they may not have otherwise considered.

The next step is retaining all that great new talent. Over the years, students have shared with me stories about their first professional positions and what they would change if they could. First, they would like to see other people like them at the company they join. This could mean greater diversity in gender, age, ethnicity or other traits that provide a sense of belonging. This diversity also gives them a vision of roles to which they could aspire. Second, many of our engineering students join companies outside of the Northeast U.S. Graduates want to understand the culture of the company they are joining and feel welcome as a person who may come from a different background than most other employees.

Past graduates have sometimes felt they needed to prove themselves repeatedly because of their ethnicity or gender. We counsel students to seek out support systems to help them navigate these barriers and be successful. Solid orientation, mentorship and sponsorship programs that can advocate for such employees can serve as support systems for new professionals.

The cybersecurity job market is evolving to meet the challenges of a rapidly growing industry. While the technical skills and characteristics of a cybersecurity engineer remain the same, a new set of communication and analytical skills are now helping candidates to be successful in the field.

Closing the job gap

According to the (ISC)2 Cybersecurity Workforce Study, 3.4 million jobs—and counting—are up for grabs. With supply and demand fueling this enormous shortfall, employers are reframing what it takes to land a cybersecurity job. Up until now, possessing strong technical skills has been a fundamental factor in working in the cybersecurity industry. Today, that is still true, but it is only part of the equation. Cyber leaders—or chief information security officers (CISOs)—now take a different approach when searching for new hires which may include a deeper analytical skillset as AI takes on more of the technical, automated tasks.

Elevating your skill set

As the likelihood of cyber threats increases, cybersecurity engineers are being asked to step out of their comfort zones to interact with customers. This means that these tech-experts—whose top strength is not always communication skills—are now in the spotlight and must incorporate this ability to succeed in the cybersecurity world. Today, candidates seeking to land a position in cybersecurity need to perfect their analytical/communication skills—along with their technical skills—to compete in this in-demand market. Here are some of the skills employers are looking for in a strong cybersecurity candidate:

  • Strong oral communication skills
  • Strong technical writing skills
  • Being collaborative
  • Problem solver
  • Critical thinker
  • Negotiator

Integrating AI—the shift from a reactive to a proactive approach

Thanks to artificial intelligence (AI) and automation tools, cybersecurity engineers are now shifting their roles—and mindsets—to take a more proactive approach to reducing cyber threats, rather than focusing and responding to them. AI can help analysts detect threats, identify anomalies, and create automated response systems. According to the Tines Voice of the SOC report, “nine out of 10 security teams are automating at least some of their work, and 93 percent of respondents believe that more automation would improve their work-life balance.” So, what does this mean for cybersecurity engineers working in the industry? For starters, these new automation tools allow them to prepare for threats before they occur. By actively looking internally and externally for threats, these professionals can now take a break from repetitive, mundane tasks and focus on developing policies and strategies (based on researching cyberattack incidents) to prevent cyberattacks from happening.

Here are some specific skills that cybersecurity engineers should acquire to keep up with a changing industry:

  • Design and implement secure systems.
  • Analyze data to understand cyber risks and create reports.
  • Use data and research to create strategies that block cyber-attacks.
  • Reinforce cybersecurity policies that will reduce vulnerabilities.
  • Stay educated on the latest industry skills and knowledge.

What it takes to become a cybersecurity engineer

Do you love a challenge? If your answer is “yes,” then you may be a great candidate to become a cybersecurity engineer. Even better news is that whether you’re searching for a new career or getting an early start thinking about your future, the job outlook for the cybersecurity field is wide open.

Here is a snapshot of a few key things you need to know:

Education

Bachelor’s degree in computer science, IT Systems or a related field. Vaughn College offers two degrees in the field of cybersecurity, computer engineering and computer science.

Salary

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, information security analysts earn a median salary of $112,000 a year. Over the next eight years, the job outlook is projected to grow at a faster-than-average rate of 32 percent, which makes this a superior and lucrative career choice.

Start with Vaughn’s Computer Engineering Summer Academy

What it’s about

Vaughn’s Computer Engineering Summer Academy is a free, in-person, four-week program that’s open to high school sophomores, juniors and seniors as well as college students who are interested in the fields of computer engineering, cybersecurity and AI – to get a taste of what these fields are like and if you might want to explore pursuing a degree in them. It’s a great first step to explore and discover your interests in this emerging field.

Why you should attend

Industry professionals believe that one of the solutions to closing the gap on the shortage of cybersecurity engineers is to introduce the field to students as early as middle school and high school. Attending Vaughn’s Computer Engineering Summer Academy is a great way to gain theory and hands-on experience while learning about today’s most influential topics in the industry.

When it’s happening

The 2024 summer academy will run from July 8 through August 2, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., with a break for lunch. You can register here. Vaughn is offering many other STEM-focused summer programs – learn more about them and see which is right for you!

Discover the possibilities that a career in this in-demand field can bring you. Vaughn’s degree programs in computer engineering and computer science can be your gateway to a bright career path. It’s your future. Let’s make it work! Apply today.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) announced in February that it is “working to accelerate its training and hiring of air traffic controllers through the development of an Enhanced Air Traffic Collegiate Initiative (AT-CTI) program,” in light of the ongoing workforce shortage. This latest action builds on the FAA’s current AT-CTI program to help offset the 2,500-person shortfall of air traffic controllers in the US.

The FAA expedites the pathway for AT-CTI school graduates

Beginning in April, current AT-CTI institutions (including Vaughn) can apply to join the Enhanced AT-CTI program. The FAA will then make its selections and sign partnership agreements with those institutions that agree to—and are able to—incorporate the new enhancements to the curriculum for the 2024-2025 school year. This enhanced program ensures that graduates have the necessary skills to begin on-the-job training. Additionally, this program will allow graduates to bypass the once-required 16-week FAA Academy training in Oklahoma City and receive their training at their respective AT-CTI college or university.

To bolster this initiative even further, the FAA has taken steps to ensure the training of the highest quality of graduating students by providing guidance on the criteria and coursework of the enhanced program. The FAA will oversee all program requirements to ensure the institutions are following all of the technology, testing, oversight and participation requirements of the Enhanced AT-CTI program. Graduates, however, are still required to pass the Air Traffic Skills Assessment (ATSA) exam as well as the necessary medical and security requirements outlined in this list of questions and answers.

According to the announcement in February, FAA Administrator Mike Whitaker stated: “Hiring more air traffic controllers is a priority. We need more entry points for controller candidates, and this enhanced college controller training program is an additional avenue to get controllers into facilities sooner.”

In addition to the changes to the AT-CTI program, the FAA noted the following efforts to make air traffic control training more accessible:

  • The announcement of a year-round hiring track for experienced controllers from the military and private industry.
  • The goal to fill every seat at the FAA Academy and increase classroom capacity beyond current limits.
  • Expanding the use of advanced training across the country. The agency has opened new facilities in Chicago, IL and San Diego, CA. Additional facilities in Nashua, NH and Phoenix, AZ will open in the spring.
  • Plans to finish the deployment of tower simulator systems in 95 facilities by December 2025. The FAA will deploy the first system—based in Austin, TX—by January 2024.
  • To strengthen our safety culture, reports from the Air Traffic Safety Oversight Service will be provided to the FAA administrator and Aviation Safety Associate administrator.

Why Vaughn is the best choice to become an air traffic controller

Is becoming an air traffic controller on your radar for the future? If so, this blog must have given you something to think about—not to mention motivation. As one of the original 13 institutions in the AT-CTI program, Vaughn is the premier choice for air traffic control training. Vaughn students qualify for air traffic controller jobs more quickly, thanks to the facilities, connections and experience offered to help them get certified. It is also worth noting that the FAA hires more of its candidates from AT-CTI institutions and the military. And air traffic controllers in the New York region are in particularly high demand, in part due to the fact that New York is a major travel hub.

Find out how Vaughn and the latest FAA expedited process could be your pathway to the control tower. Learn more about Vaughn’s air traffic control program and apply today!

What do a robotics engineer, data analyst and power engineer all have in common? These highly skilled engineers all hold a degree in mechatronic engineering—one of the most diverse, in-demand and high-paying fields of today. So, what exactly is “mechatronic engineering”?

What is mechatronic engineering?

Mechatronic engineering is an emerging field of mechanical engineering, electrical engineering and computer engineering—all rolled into one. Vaughn is one of the only institutions in New York to offer a degree in mechatronic engineering and is one of four institutions in the country that received accreditation for the program by the Engineering Accreditation Commission (EAC) of ABET (Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology).

This is significant since ABET accreditation assures that programs meet specific standards to prepare graduates who are ready to enter critical technical fields that lead the way in innovation and emerging technologies, while also anticipating the welfare and safety needs of the public. Highly skilled individuals who are trained in this field use their knowledge to design and develop new systems, hardware and even new products. Because of the unique nature of having these three disciplines under their belts, mechatronic engineers are eligible to apply to an expansive range of career options. Today, robotics is playing a major role in engineering, especially in the fields of automotives, the medical supply industry and uncrewed aerial vehicles (UAVs)—along with so many more in between.

Is pursuing a degree in mechatronic engineering of interest to you? Here is a snapshot of some of the exciting careers that you may not even have thought of, along with profiles of a few of our graduates who are living their dream careers:

  • Renewable and sustainable energy: Vaughn graduate, Samia Oishi, who is making a difference in the field of sustainable energy.
  • Automotive research, design and technology: Emily German and Terry Cetoute.
  • Logistics/Robotics: Jefferson Maldonado, who landed his dream job in robotics.
  • Aerospace and defense: Tatiana Jaimes, who not only designed a literacy tool for the blind but landed a job as a mechatronic engineer at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab after graduation, and Atif Saeed, who landed a job in aerospace at SpaceX!
  • UAV/Drone engineering: Drone pilots and engineers can have degrees in mechatronic engineering which teach them how to design, print 3D components, assemble and operate drones. Drone engineers and operators can be employed in a variety of fields including real estate, manufacturing, agriculture and construction.
  • Pharmaceutical manufacturing: Engineers in pharmaceutical manufacturing are responsible for designing, implementing, and maintaining manufacturing processes and equipment, ensuring the production of high-quality and safe pharmaceutical products while adhering to regulatory standards and optimizing efficiency in the production line.
  • Biomedical and healthcare: Engineers in the biomedical and healthcare industries contribute to the design, development, and enhancement of cutting-edge prosthetic devices. They integrate biomechanics, materials science and electronics to create customized solutions that improve the functionality and comfort of prosthetic limbs.
  • Agriculture: In agriculture, engineers design and implement innovative technologies, such as precision farming equipment, automated irrigation systems and sensor-based monitoring devices which can improve crop yield, optimize resource utilization and enhance overall efficiency. Additionally, agricultural engineers work on the development of machinery, robotics and software applications to address challenges in modern large-scale farming.

An in-demand field

Every day across the world, technology continues to advance at a rapid pace. It therefore comes as no surprise that businesses from nearly every sector are turning—at least to a certain extent—to the latest in robotics or sophisticated intelligence systems to help streamline their operations or processes. So, who are the brains behind these systems? You guessed it! Those who have engineering degrees—such as the mechatronic engineering degree from Vaughn. This acceleration in the demand for these specialized skills is placing these engineers as among the most sought-after professionals in the industry.

High salaries

According to Lightcast career data, mechatronic engineers in the New York region can earn a median annual salary of $119,000 per year—with some positions paying considerably higher, depending on the industry, company, role and experience level.

Why Vaughn is the best choice for mechatronic engineering

Vaughn is dedicated to preparing students for success. Here are several examples of how the College goes above and beyond to create unique opportunities for its students:

  • Provides financial support for students to attend national conferences to present research and also network with industry representatives—which may result in internship and employment opportunities.
  • Widespread student participation in extracurricular activities which include numerous clubs, professional societies and student competitions where Vaughn’s teams have consistently won top awards in national and international competitions—such as VEX U robotics, Mars Rover and uncrewed aerial vehicle competitions—over teams from larger universities.
  • Offers an array of engineering summer programming, which is designed to develop students’ abilities at the high school level and grow their confidence in programming, hands-on experimentation, technical report writing and presentation development.
  • Vaughn’s small class sizes, experienced faculty and state-of-the-art labs and facilities provide the ideal learning environment for students to hone their craft.

Are you looking for an exciting engineering career? Mechatronic engineering may be the right path for you! Discover how a degree from Vaughn College can put you in demand for a range of some of today’s hottest career opportunities. Apply today.

By Dr. Sharon B. DeVivo, president and chief executive officer of Vaughn College

A ticket to the middle class and beyond is what a position as an air traffic controller can mean for a young person from an underresourced and underrepresented community. This resilient and diverse workforce is exactly what we need to solve the shortage of controllers in the U.S.

The recently reported need for more air traffic controllers has joined the workforce issues being experienced across the industry. The latest figures in a report issued by the FAA estimate that in the next 10 years, we will have 1,000 fewer fully certified controllers while we are only on track to gain fewer than 200—a net loss of 800. Estimates for the number of needed controllers in the next decade vary between 2,500 and 3,000. The issues in New York are particularly acute right now and have resulted in the limiting of flights, affecting airlines and passengers nationwide.

The current shortage, brought on by retirements and the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on training, led the FAA in November to announce plans to explore the expansion of existing training partnerships, including its work with higher education partners in the Air Traffic-Collegiate Training Initiative (AT-CTI).

There are several pathways to pursuing a career in air traffic control, including attending one of the roughly 30 AT-CTI institutions nationwide, applying through a public announcement (typically done about once per year) or serving as a controller in the military first. By attending an AT-CTI institution and achieving a recommendation to the FAA, students can bypass the first six weeks of basic FAA training in Oklahoma City, where all current training takes place. After completing work there, more site-specific training is done (and can take two years or longer) at the assigned facility until that individual becomes a certified professional controller.

Vaughn College is one of the original 13 institutions chosen in 1997 as part of the AT-CTI partnership. The FAA told us at the time one reason it chose Vaughn was that our students wanted to return to New York. For some strange reason, people from other parts of the country were not as quick to move to our great state. Another advantage to working with Vaughn: the ethnic diversity of our students. About 80% of Vaughn’s students are first-generation college students and first-generation Americans.

Twenty-seven years later, the most complex airspace in the world—which includes the towers at the region’s major airports and the New York Terminal Radar Approach Control facility—is filled with Vaughn graduates from this valuable partnership. These positions offer great pay and benefits with mandatory retirement at 56. This is just one of the reasons that Vaughn is the best institution in the country at moving students from the bottom levels of income to the top, according to a study done by the Equality of Opportunity Project.

I recently chaired the Youth Access to Aviation Jobs in America Task Force (YIATF), a team appointed by the Transportation Department. Our group of industry representatives provided Congress and the FAA with 21 recommendations for how to meet the workforce needs of our industry. Our findings included models for building greater awareness, and we learned that providing information access is essential, especially in communities that do not have exposure to aviation. Unless you know someone already in the field, you tend not to understand what is possible. We suggested a one-stop-shop website to provide information, career paths and connections to local resources. Those local resources give students and families the means to learn more and pursue activities such as visits to camps, museums, aviation events and more that can ensure a career in aviation and aerospace.

Most important, the ability of industry, educators and the FAA to work together is critical to the transformation we seek in our workforce development pipeline. As the YIATF concluded: “What will ultimately make a difference will be our ability to collaborate [and] communicate and our commitment to attracting young people to this exciting, impactful and horizon-expanding industry.”

AT-CTI institutions are ready to help the FAA grow and diversify the workforce, providing a new generation of Americans with the lifechanging possibilities that air traffic control can offer. Aspiring candidates from across America can look forward to a promising career that can change the trajectory for them and their families.

Article originally published in Aviation Week on February 2, 2024.

There’s nothing artificial about artificial intelligence (AI). In fact, this technology is playing a crucial role in the aviation industry as airlines are investing in AI to help them become more efficient and competitive.

From predicting flight delays to machine-learning technology, the use of AI is quickly becoming a real game changer in the aviation industry. In fact, the value of the global artificial intelligence market increased dramatically—from $152.4 million in 2018 to a projected figure of $2,222.5 million by 2025. What is driving this impressive upward trend? Let’s take a closer look.

Fleet and operations management

AI-powered systems have the potential to help aviation companies and operators lower their operating costs and overhead by optimizing their fleets and operations. Swiss International Air Lines and Lufthansa, for example, have reportedly had impressive results in their experience from using AI in their respective operations. Having applied AI technology for the purpose of improving efficiency, Swiss International Air Lines saved $5.4 million last year and saw a boost in optimization efficiency for more than half its flights. Lufthansa, on the other hand, is using AI to more accurately forecast wind patterns that blow from the northeast to southwest Switzerland. By helping to better predict wind patterns, the airline had a 40 percent improvement in accuracy, which in turn is helping with flight delays and cancellations at Zurich Airport.

Delta Air Lines, American Airlines and JetBlue are investing in AI to optimize their respective operations.

Here are some of the ways AI is being used by airlines to increase efficiency and save money:

  • Predicting flight delays—Although there are a variety of factors that can impact flight delays, such as weather conditions and operations at other airports, applying predictive analytics can play a role in analyzing real-time data to help predict delayed flights, update departure times and even rebook customers’ flights.
  • Managing fuel consumption and emissions—AI technology helps to optimize flight plans to minimize fuel burn by avoiding unfavorable weather or traffic conditions.
  • Pricing optimization and airline revenue management—Airlines lose money from having to fly half-empty planes. Pricing optimization uses machine-learning algorithms to search for ways to boost sales revenue by ensuring that flights are optimally booked, while also reducing the risk of overbooking.
  • Automating inventory management—AI algorithms help to analyze usage patterns and maintenance schedules so spare parts are available when needed, reducing inventory costs.
  • Identifying potential aircraft malfunctions—Predictive maintenance can help identify potential aircraft failures before they happen, which in turn can lead to lower maintenance costs and flight disruptions.
  • Streamlining airport check-ins and baggage procedures—Facial recognition technology powered by AI can expedite check-ins, immigration processes and baggage handling operations which can lead to a reduction in labor costs and greater efficiency.
  • Optimizing crew scheduling—Planning a crew roster takes into account several factors such as number of flights, number of standby crew, vacation schedules, transfers, layovers and rest requirements. Machine learning algorithms can automate this process by looking at historical data to optimize crew rosters.
  • Streamlining repair and assembly of parts—Maintenance technicians and aircraft manufacturers can improve repair and assembly processes and engineers can expedite design/certification of products by using AI software and robots—including ChatGPT.

Customer service

AI is making great strides in customer satisfaction and customer retention. There’s no denying that delays and cancellations can make any trip begin on a sour note. Even the most loyal customers may rethink booking on their favorite airline the next time they travel. By utilizing AI, airlines are improving their customer flight experience by providing personalized service to their customers.

Here are some examples of how AI is improving customer service:

  • Recommending travel itineraries.
  • Providing real-time information about flight status and delays.
  • AI chatbots to answer customer questions and resolve issues quickly.
  • Flight route optimization lowers operational costs, which then leads to higher customer retention.

The human factor

For some, the fear of AI or robots taking over their jobs is a genuine concern. The reality is that while AI may change the way we work, human perception and intellect are still needed—especially for highly intellectual property that requires a relationship between machines and humans. People are still needed to run and monitor AI systems. AI may even have the potential to create new jobs in the aviation industry, handling some of the responsibilities outlined below.

  • Maintaining AI systems for aircraft and ground operations.
  • Developing algorithms.
  • Ensuring that AI is being used responsibly and ethically.

Landing an aviation career begins with a Vaughn degree

Looking to pursue a degree in aviation? Now is the time to get started. Were you aware that the projected need for aviation personnel will top nearly 2.3 million over the next 20 years? Whether you’re passion is to become a computer engineer, pilot, air traffic controller, aviation maintenance technician or even work in airport operations, Vaughn College has degree and certificate programs that can help launch your career. Apply today!

Is becoming a pilot on your radar? The latest partnership between Vaughn College and Atlas Air’s University Pipeline Program can put you and aspiring pilots in the captain’s seat faster—with less expense—all while receiving exceptional benefits and support. Buckle up as Ron Ruggeri, online technical specialist instructor in the aviation department at Vaughn, sheds light on this exciting collaboration that can fast-track the careers of tomorrow’s pilots.

A new era of opportunity

The purpose of this program is twofold: It has been designed to grow Atlas Air’s pipeline of qualified applicants for employment in high-demand positions as well as increase career opportunities for qualified Vaughn College flight students. Through the University Pipeline Program, Atlas Air will recruit, train and hire qualified Vaughn graduates, thus affording them a new era of opportunities and benefits that can accelerate their career trajectories.

Program timeline

As you may expect, there is a structured timeline which each student must follow to ensure he or she has all the required licenses and flight hours to qualify for this opportunity. Ruggeri emphasizes the timeline students should follow:

  • In their sophomore year, students should begin their instrument rating to secure the following five licenses: private, instrument, commercial, certified flight instructor—single-engine airplane (CFIA) and certified flight instructor instrument.
  • In their senior year (or seventh semester), Ruggeri said flight students begin their CFIA and start building flight hours toward the required 1,000 hours in order to obtain their Restricted Airline Transport Pilot License (R-ATP). Notably, aspiring pilots must be at least 23 years old to be eligible for this license. And the cost for obtaining these hours is expensive: flight hours can cost up to $300 per hour, bringing the total to $300,000 for the required 1,000 hours. For this reason, Ruggeri said many students opt to instruct during this period to offset the expenses associated with their flight training.

Program requirements

To be considered for the Atlas Air Pathway program, each candidate must meet the following criteria:

  • Maintain a 3.0 grade point average
  • Not have any background check disqualifications
  • Submit an application, résumé and introduction that details his or her aviation journey and career aspirations– if applicable, applicants must continue to update their résumés and total time
  • Submit a letter of recommendation from a professor from the specific industry-affiliated program

Graduates selected to take part in the Atlas Air Pathway to Success program will be granted preferential interviews with Atlas Air. To be considered, candidates must meet these and other criteria:

  • No more than two training failures on required ratings (excluding private pilot)
  • First class medical certificate
  • Serve as a CFI for Heritage Flight Academy or other Vaughn-affiliated 141 flight training school
  • Letter of recommendation from a flight instructor and professor from the Aircraft Operations (Flight) program
  • Graduated with required academic experience for Restricted Airline Transport Pilot (R-ATP)
  • Reach R-ATP eligibility and required minimum flying experience within two years of graduation
  • Must not be part of any other airline pathway or cadet program after signing the offer letter with Atlas Air
  • Certified Flight Instructor (CFI) qualification preferred

University Pathway to Success Program benefits

Among the most exciting aspects of the program are the considerable benefits that Vaughn students will receive. If you’re still thinking about the cost of the flight hours, the next part may put your mind at ease. Check this out. Qualified and selected students may:

  • Receive 500 free hours of flight time, courtesy of Atlas Air
  • Seamlessly transition into the role of First Officer at the age of 23, flying prestigious aircraft such as the 777 or 747
  • Get promoted to Captain faster than the typical seven-year timeframe
  • Enjoy a unique work life-balance that exists in cargo flying offering a two weeks on/two weeks off schedule; plus Atlas Air covers the cost of departure seats to ensure that pilots are able to commute home to see their families

A commitment to diversity

Vaughn and Atlas Air also share a common commitment to diversity. Vaughn serves a diverse student body of about 1,200 students, 80 percent of whom are from under-resourced communities.

“Vaughn is so pleased to deepen our partnership with Atlas Air and provide an expanded pipeline of talented, diverse graduates who want to contribute to the company’s success,” said Dr. Sharon B. DeVivo, President and Chief Executive Officer of Vaughn College. “This is another example of Atlas’ commitment to developing, hiring and promoting aviation professionals and investing in our students—the next generation that will change the world.”

Is becoming a pilot on your radar? For complete details, and to determine eligibility, contact Ron Ruggeri at Vaughn College. You can apply to the program here.

The ongoing shortage of air traffic controllers is swinging doors wide open for those seeking a career in this in-demand job. With the shortage hitting the New York area especially hard, this is an opportune time for those who are considering this career path—particularly for anyone who resides locally. Here’s why: Vaughn College, a leading aviation institution in Queens, adjacent to LaGuardia Airport, offers training that makes becoming an air traffic controller easier than you might expect. 

Why the need is so urgent

According to Pete Buttigieg, United States Secretary of Transportation, the United States is understaffed by about 3,000 air traffic control positions. Additionally, data revealed that 77 percent of critical air traffic control facilities, such as New York Terminal Radar Approach Control (TRACON) and Miami Tower, are staffed below the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA’s) required 85 percent—coming in at 54 percent and 66 percent, respectively. It is therefore no surprise that this critical shortage is leading—in part—to more flight delays and cancellations during the height of summer travel and well beyond. With an estimated 24,9000 air traffic controllers currently in place in the United States, the need is expected to grow to 6,800 over the next 10 years—factoring in the retirement of approximately 5,900 practicing air traffic controllers and the addition of 900 more. 

What does it take to become an air traffic controller?

As you might imagine, working as an air traffic controller can be intense. It requires the capacity to concentrate and multi-task in stressful situations as well as the ability to process a multitude of information quickly, among other critical responsibilities. And you may be surprised to learn about the specific requirements that are entailed. Let’s dive into these specifics.

Air traffic controller eligibility

Per the FAA, air traffic controllers (trainees without previous experience) must be 30 years old or younger before the closing date of the application period (with limited exceptions). Here is a list of the other mandatory requirements that applicants must meet to be considered eligible:

  • Be a United States citizen
  • Pass a medical examination
  • Pass a security investigation
  • Pass the FAA air traffic pre-employment test
  • Speak English clearly enough to be understood over communications equipment
  • Have three years of progressively responsible work experience, or a Bachelor’s degree, or a combination of post-secondary education and work experience that totals three years

It’s important to note that the 2023 application window is closed. The FAA only accepts applications once a year within a three-day period. Learn more about the FAA’s latest updates and information. 

Air traffic controller responsibilities and benefits 

There’s so much more to this job than meets the “eye in the sky.” In addition to coordinating and monitoring the movement of aircraft within safe distances—both in the air and on the ground, these specialized professionals must:

  • Control ground traffic at airport runways and taxiways.
  • Issue landing and takeoff instructions to pilots.
  • Transfer control of departing flights to other traffic control centers and accept control of arriving flights.

Benefits of working as an air traffic controller:

  • Potential to earn a six-figure salary after the first few years of service.
  • Consistent work schedule.
  • Scheduled breaks throughout your shift.
  • Mandatory retirement age at 56—with full federal benefits and pension.

Why Vaughn is your path to becoming an air traffic controller

Vaughn College partners with the FAA to offer the Air Traffic—Collegiate Training Initiative (AT-CTI). The FAA hires approximately 50 percent of its candidates from the AT-CTI and the military. Additionally, AT-CTI candidates can bypass the biometric screening exam, which many do not pass. In addition, if you already have an associate degree or bachelor’s degree, Vaughn offers a fast-track degree program where you can complete your prerequisite courses for the FAA exams in a year and a half. Otherwise, it takes two-to-four years.

Looking for another reason to choose Vaughn’s air traffic control program? The College is one of only 33 schools nationwide that offers AT-CTI―and the only institution to do so in the northeast. When it comes to aviation, Vaughn has the history, experience, reputation and industry connections that will ensure students graduate with a successful career. 

Watch these recent CBS and WPIX 11 news segments on the air traffic controller shortage featuring Vaughn’s training program.  

What’s on your radar for the future? Be a part of the next generation of air traffic controllers. Apply today!

Exciting advancements in the field of autonomous vehicles will have the public at large doing a double take as the reality of unmanned vehicles—both in the air and on the ground—gains momentum. And many skilled pilots, technicians and engineers will be needed to support these future endeavors.

Here, we’ll highlight some of the latest events happening in the New York area surrounding autonomous vehicles and electric vertical take-off and landing aircraft (eVTOL) which are intended to provide air taxi service in the not-so-distant future. Get ready to learn all about how the future of this phenomenon is carving a bright future for Vaughn College students.

Platooning demonstration at John F. Kennedy Airport

This June, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey (PANYNJ) and Ohmio—a leading New Zealand-based autonomous mobility company—will host the country’s first three-vehicle platooning demonstration at John F. Kennedy (JFK) International Airport. This exciting event involves eight-passenger driverless shuttles that will travel closely together—without connection—on a closed area at the airport’s long-term parking lot. This demonstration is highly anticipated as it showcases how advancements in autonomous vehicle technology will someday transport passengers safely and efficiently to airport rental car facilities, nearby commuter rail stations, long-term parking lots and other short-term connections—without a driver and within a single movement. Last fall, the PANYNJ was highly successful in its demonstration of two eight-passenger electric autonomous shuttles. The second demonstration is planned to test a larger platoon at faster speeds.

New York City sees first test flight of piloted eVTOL

Earlier this year, skygazing New Yorkers had the opportunity to see the first test flight of a piloted eVTOL at the Westchester County Airport in White Plains, New York. BLADE Air Mobility and BETA Technologies tested a six-passenger ALIA-250 eVTOL—powered by an all-electric propulsion system—to test the noise profile of the aircraft. This milestone demonstration highlighted the transition of helicopters to eVTOLs and proved to be successful: The sound decibel was reduced to one-tenth of that of a helicopter.

Airbus and Boeing on board for autonomous eVTOL air taxi services

Aviation giants Boeing and Airbus are working toward making autonomous air taxi service—specifically pilotless eVTOLs—a high-flying reality in the near future.

Airbus has its sights set on certifying its City Airbus NextGen four-seat eVTOL by 2025, starting with piloted service and transitioning to an uncrewed air taxi service once regulations allow.

Boeing revealed that it invested $450 million in Wisk Aero—a California-based advanced air mobility company—which is developing the world’s first self-flying, all-electric four-seat air taxi that will transport people in dense urban areas. One of the key factors, however, is to build the air taxis to be as light as possible. Wisk Aero plans on leveraging Boeing’s experience with lightweight composite material that was used on the 787 fleet. The company intends to focus on uncrewed urban air mobility—with eVTOLs piloted by a multi-vehicle supervisor on the ground. There’s still some work to be done before you’ll actually see air taxis fly over your city. Regulatory agencies—such as the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), NASA and even international regulators—will play a major role in approving unmanned air taxis. Wisk Aero hopes to gain certification from the FAA by 2030.

Autonomous bus travel through the Lincoln Tunnel

If you’re loving the thought of zipping around in an autonomous shuttle at the airport, can you imagine what riding in an autonomous bus through the Lincoln Tunnel would be like? This idea is not too far from becoming a reality. In fact, the PANYNJ is working toward using autonomous vehicle technology in public transit. In October of 2022, the PANYNJ partnered with Navya, a leading French autonomous mobility company, to hold a demonstration of two-vehicle shuttle platooning at the JFK Aqueduct Parking Lot, the first-of-its-kind at a North American airport. The demonstration featured two eight-passenger electric autonomous vehicle (AV) shuttles in a platoon to simulate how AV technology could serve passengers in the future and increase capacity of the bus lane.

How eVTOL aircraft reduce impact on the environment

eVTOL aircraft will significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions and improve energy efficiency compared to traditional planes and helicopters. This is because eVTOLs are powered by electric motors, which produce zero emissions and are much more efficient than traditional gas engines.

In addition, as noted, eVTOL aircraft are being made to operate predominantly in urban environments, which reduces the need for long commutes and decreases traffic congestion. This can lead to a reduction in overall energy consumption as well as an increase in individual productivity and well-being.

How Vaughn is providing skilled engineers to move autonomous vehicle development forward

As you can imagine, there are many moving parts to autonomous vehicles. With that being said, the industry needs skilled mechanical, electrical, mechatronic and aerospace engineers to design, build, test and ensure the safety of these efficient, high performing vehicles. In addition to associate, bachelor’s and master’s degrees in these areas, Vaughn offers a certificate program in unmanned aerial system (UAS) design, application and operation, so you can become the next engineer to help design and build eVTOL vehicles. Vaughn’s unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) club is a community of students and faculty who put their heads together to build, program and fly drones, and compete in top contests around the nation. They are also ambassadors of drone safety and help to mentor young drone enthusiasts.

Vaughn offers a certificate in safety management systems which will give you a competitive edge in managing aviation safety. The sky is—literally—the limit in where your degree can take you. Discover the possibilities to create a brighter future not only for yourself, but for the world too. Apply today!

In recognition of Earth Day, Vaughn College is celebrating with some exciting news where sustainability in the aviation and engineering industries is concerned. Learn how these industries that employ engineers, technicians and managers are taking important strides toward becoming more environmentally friendly and sustainable, thanks to a variety of innovative technologies that are already beginning to revolutionize the way we fly.

Sustainable Fuel

One of the biggest and most promising developments is the move towards sustainable aviation fuel (or SAF). So, what is SAF? SAF is a biofuel that’s produced from sustainable feedstocks that has similar properties as traditional fossil jet fuel—but with a smaller carbon footprint. American Airlines was the first airline to use SAF in its regular operations. Since then, other airlines have begun experimenting with these biofuels in their commercial flights. (American Airlines, it should be noted, is hoping to reach its goal of reducing its greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) by 2050.)

The commitment for net-zero GHG emissions is also being seen at NASA and at the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). Bolstering this commitment, the U.S. Department of Energy is working with federal agencies—which include the US Department of Agriculture and the US Department of Transportation—to making aviation cleaner, quieter and more sustainable by 2050.

Electric planes

The reality of electric planes may be closer than you think, as the technology behind these futuristic aircraft is rapidly evolving. As you would surmise, electric planes run on electricity instead of jet fuel—which significantly reduces their emissions and lowers the industry’s environmental impact. This promising development could be a real gamechanger. Although electric planes are not capable of keeping up with traditional planes when it comes to distance and speed, they could be a viable option for many commercial flights in the future.

On the other hand, electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft and advancements in urban air mobility may not only be a high-flying reality but an employment booster as well, since it has the potential to create new job opportunities. The need for skilled engineers, designers and maintenance technicians are only a few of the jobs that are necessary for the development and manufacture of eVTOL vehicles. And when it comes to flying these amazing aircraft, the need for pilots will increase even more. Additionally, eVTOL vehicles will require maintenance and repair opening doors for a range of career opportunities that can potentially stimulate economic growth in many communities.

Advancing technology

Thanks to advanced technology such as data analysis, artificial intelligence and blockchain solutions, airplanes now run far more efficiently and safely. These latest innovations are not only helping to reduce energy consumption, emissions and waste, but they are saving airlines money, improving reliability and boosting passenger satisfaction.

Beyond the aviation industry, wind and solar power are also creating new opportunities for engineers and those holding airframe and powerplant certificates. Many engineers are working to develop and improve wind turbines and solar panels. These technologies not only help provide clean energy for homes and businesses, but they also create new jobs for people looking to build, design and maintain the structures. See how Samia Oishi ’21 is using her mechatronic engineering degree from Vaughn to drive energy equity and create a more sustainable future.

How a Vaughn degree can lead to a futureproof—and sustainable—career

Earning a Vaughn degree can meet today’s industry needs where they are. Innovations in SAF, electric planes and technology are helping to reduce the environmental impact while creating new opportunities for engineers and professionals in related fields.

Are you looking for a futureproof career that can make an environmental difference? Vaughn offers degrees in engineering and technology, management and aviation. Discover the possibilities of a Vaughn College degree. Apply today!