The secret to Vaughn College’s success is simple, according to adjunct instructor Robert DeGennaro.

“If you want to learn how to be a carpenter, you should work with a carpenter,” DeGennaro says. “If you want to learn about plumbing, you ask a plumber. Vaughn is so unique in that you can learn air traffic control from air traffic contollers.”

DeGennaro ought to know. An air traffic controller for more than 20 years, he worked at Kennedy Airport from 1989 to 2007 and now is a supervisor at Westchester County Airport. He shares his expertise with would-be controllers at Vaughn, teaching aviation weather and advanced air traffic control.

He says he enjoys teaching almost as much as his full-time controller duties.

“Vaughn students are very engaged in learning about air traffic control,” DeGennaro says, “and I really love teaching it to them. They’re always asking me questions that I have to find the answers to, so I learn from them.”

It’s not only the on-campus population that engages DeGennaro. He teaches his aviation weather course online, bringing the Vaughn experience to a global audience.

Says DeGennaro: “It’s a fun way of getting an education, and the online students do learn a lot about air traffic control and aviation. I enjoy teaching online.”

DeGennaro says Vaughn assets, including its on-campus air traffic control observation tower, are invaluable for those interested in becoming controllers.

“You can see what it’s like to work in a real tower,” DeGennaro says. “That’s a wonderful asset that the college has that I don’t think you get anywhere else.”