From Air Traffic Control

ATC Capstone and Internship

1-18-2017 18:53

Instead of studying for my FAA dispatch written exam like I should be, I’m going to foolishly write this long letter to nobody. As promised in the previous post I’m going to tell you why ATC 484 (ATC Internship) and ATC 491 (ATC Capstone) are important. They’re important for more reasons than just your grade, as they will teach you real life skills and give you something to put on your resume; which I’m guessing is bare because anyone who would have found this is probably a college student with no real world work experience. Most importantly, if done correctly you can combine the two to make your life easier and compound the effect it has on your resume.

ATC 484 for me was incredibly insightful as I did my internship at the Phoenix TRACON (P50) and Tower. Obviously having open access to these facilities is incredible, and an opportunity achievable no where else in life. The internship consisted of two parts: RPO’ing in the tower simulation lab and working in the Quality Control (QC) department. While working in QC can be mundane data entry related tasks, it will teach you valuable skills (which you probably don’t have) that the entire professional world operates under. Not to sound repetitive by harping on college kids, but I feel it necessary as the emphasis will be explained at the end.

RPO’ing in the training department taught me valuable lessons that I could use towards acquiring a job as an RPO for the FAA (not directly for the FAA as they contract out those things). For me personally this would equal a downgrade from my current position. However, it is a solid back up incase where I am at currently doesn’t work out and I am unable to acquire a position in the same field. For your typical college student, I’m sure $15/hr straight out of school sounds like sex. I will eventually get to what/where it is I am currently working, I promise I am not a liar it’s just talking about work when all I do is work activates my gag reflex.

Getting back on course, now its time to talk about ATC Capstone (491), and then how they can tie together. Capstone consists of you working with an industry partner and in the most basic explanation, pitching a solution to a problem they have. For my capstone I worked with the Air Traffic Control System Command Center (ATCSCC). Without getting into incredible detail I made them a way to quantify the data they collected to allow them to gauge the performance of a new program they implemented. More arrogantly speaking I created a quality control program that helps fine tune the efficiency of the entire national airspace system; doubt any other student has done anything that profound.

Stepping back off my high horse it is now that you should see the similarity between what I did for my capstone and working with the QC department for P50. The QC work fed the mind set for creating the capstone project. On top of that I was able to do quite a bit of work for my capstone during my internship. Meaning I was able to do school work during my internship. Now I can add my capstone project on my resume under the FAA Internship section, sky rocketing it upwards far above and beyond anybody else’s experience there. Which is even more important for a college student with limited professional experience to display on a resume. Hopefully that sinks in otherwise I just wasted valuable studying time.

Fall 2016

1/8/2016 18:46

Last semester was a success academically, the 4.0 GPA is still alive. However, it was a grueling semester and I damn near lost it with the Dispatch Ground course (AMT 360). The other classes I took last semester were En Route Operations (ATC 333), Internship (ATC 484), and ATC Capstone (ATC491). ATC 484 and ATC 491 are very important, and will require their own post. However, I will discuss AMT 360 and ATC 333 in this.

ATC 333 is much the same as ATC 332, or at least it was for me given the circumstances. ASU finally got a real center controller to be a professor, and Professor Delugt is a great guy. Both fortunately and unfortunately for me it was his first semester teaching. Therefore, he hasn’t had time to mold the curriculum of the class. Thus it was easy, but very educational.

AMT 360 on the other hand is a three headed monster, and your only weapon is a squirt gun. That entire class revolves around the memorizing the questions out of the GLEIM book. The first test was fairly straight forward, but the second one was harder, and the final was absolutely brutal. I damn near had a panic attack in the middle of that final because I was getting so many questions I had never seen before. I have yet to take the actual FAA written for the dispatch rating because of its brutality.

While I did okay on the final it was mainly because I got extremely lucky with a lot of my guesses. My plan was to study a little bit more and take the FAA written over winter break. That plan however blew up in my face like a turbo’d civic. The motivation to pick up that book and run through the questions is nonexistent. Now winter break is over and I HAVE to get on it before the semester gets up to full speed.

Lost Comms

1/8/2017 18:16

It’s been another four month period of lost communications, and as always a lot has happened. Given the topic at the end of the last post, and the gap up until now, I’d say its fairly obvious that I failed the BQ again. I think this is largely in part the reason I quit writing as it was quite a blow. Even four months later I’m still flabbergasted on how I could have failed it again. Regardless whats done is done and speculating about it only further irritates me.

The candle light of hope is very dim. I have to say with each passing day the feeling of helplessness in achieving my dream increases, as does the acceptance of never achieving it; which depresses me. Actually sitting here and thinking about it makes it real again. Not to say that I haven’t been feeling it the past four months, because I have. It’s just that over the past four months I’ve been so busy it was easier to brush off; especially because I was interning at PHX/P50.That crutch however is gone now, and its time to get back on the horse for the new semester (which starts tomorrow).

Needless to say we have a lot to talk about.

Long Time No See

8/9/2016 19:42

It’s been so long I don’t even know where to begin. For some reason I never felt the need to write even though so much in my life has changed this summer. Now that the 2016 ATC bid is looming I feel the need to put the pen back to the paper.

I guess I’ll start about the new job I just started this week. I finally made the transition from working with aerospace companies to working in one. Getting out of staffing/recruiting is fantastic, I’m so glad to have left it behind me. The morals of that business are so corrupt, but at the same time the people you have to deal with drive you to it. A job that depends on the direct actions other others will almost always lead to  failure. As for what my new job is, I’ll describe that in a later post when I better unstained what it is that I’m actually doing there.

Second, I got my new car. I finally got around to selling the my first car that I’ve had since 2008. To add to that I bought my first ever new car. While this is exciting it is at the same time terrifying. Car payments and student loan payments, life will surely smack in the face when school is done.

Now for more ATC related news: the 2016 bid is currently underway. I just uploaded all the documents I will be submitting with my application. With the new law that passed I will be required to apply under the OTS (off the street) bid; meaning I will have to take the biographical assessment again. I haven’t applied yet. This is because I am still in school, you need to graduate first before you can get around the BQ. I was going to apply tonight but I decided not to as it is open all week. I think I’m being apprehensive about it for multiple reasons:

1. I’m trying to see what other people are saying about it to get a better idea.
2. Taking it is just going to suck, it’s very long.
3. I’m scared to see the results.

Which ever way this bid goes there’s a major downside. If I get picked up, I may have to drop out of school and quit my job, obviously a huge fucking gamble. If I fail I just missed out on a huge hiring bid, the likes of which won’t be seen again again (hiring will take a huge decrease over the next couple of years). The only way this works out perfectly is if I get picked up and get a call time for over a year from now; like thats going to fucking happen. Well I guess theres no reason to pick this apart until I know if its going to happen or not. My next post will likely be the results.

Your Time Has Come

4/27/2016 20:18

Tomorrow marks my graded simulator evaluation for the local control position. This past week was basically taken off of work to refine my skills on the local south position. Followed by taking today off so that I could shake off the weekend rust before tomorrow. While I hope I receive local north, which only has one runway and is considerably easier for me, I don’t at the same time. While other students probably don’t feel the same, this evaluation is an important milestone. A milestone that pushes ones limits and demonstrates ones ability. Succeeding in an easier fashion will fail to do either.

Pushing my mental limits to the breaking point is in large part the reason I wish to become a controller. My sights are set on working at a high level facility, thriving within it, and eventually making my way to the command center. That being said the fear of maintaining my 4.0 GPA is outweighed by a fear of a realization of my own incompetence. I’ve completely enveloped myself to passing this evaluation, and I want and expect nothing more then to tear the shit out of the hardest problem he has.

Oh I also have a commercial stage exam tomorrow too…

Starting To Get Turbulent

4/16/2016 20:25

So yesterday I went over to Mesa Airlines to discuss the details of their internship with my future professor. Good news is it is paid, bad news is it is generally just during the summer. Therefore, with where I am credit wise at the moment I will have to do it on a non-school related basis. Which is obviously more work in the grand scheme of things but it also allows me to intern at PHX which is obviously something I want to do. Regardless, the interning at Mesa seems like a real possibility, but I will have to get rid of my car and get a new one immediately after this semester ends…

On the subject of this semester the pressure is starting to build with finals fast approaching. Local South was proving to be a considerable problem in ATC 431 until this past Thursday when it started to click. I’ll try and write a report as to how to succeed at local control, because its a serious learning curve. Regardless heres what I’m up against over the next couple weeks:

ATC 431- Simulation Graded Eval., Written Final, and the take home test thats 100 something questions.
ATC 332- Final exam
AMT 442- Book review (halfway done), and final.
AMT 214- Stage 3 exam, homework questions on all the chapters, and the final exam.

On top of this I have this Professional Women Controllers conference I will be attending the week before finals. I’ll be writing an article for their newsletter, so I have to find some way to fit that into my school work. Regardless, I need to try and attend this even as much as possible as it is a great networking opportunity.

Troubling Times

4/7/2016 20:12

It’s been a little while since my last entry, and big shocker: a lot has happened. First, I’ve officially been offered an internship at the Phoenix TRACON/Tower. Now you think this would be a cause for celebration as it is where I’ve wanted to do my internship since I started school for ATC. However, given the FAA’s current hiring practices regarding controllers, I have to seriously consider whether or not this internship is worth it. This is because it currently won’t further my chances of being a controller. How fucked is it that I have to question my dream internship for a dream job for something that will help my back up career? Very fucked.

However, this brings up the other bun I’ve got going in the oven. During my writing hiatus I looked up a dispatcher on LinkedIn and asked for, and got a tour of Mesa Airlines dispatching office. I definitely think I’d enjoy working there as dispatching is a very neat and misunderstood occupation. So, I’m currently trying to get another visit scheduled so that I might be able to establish an internship there. Reason being, an internship within dispatching would make me a very viable candidate for a real dispatching position, which is what an internship is supposed to do.

Honestly, if it came down to the two, I’d have to go with Mesa Airlines.

Side note: You have to pay for your internship credits, how fucking ridiculous is that? I have to pay to go work somewhere for free. What a scam this is.

Midterms Part 2

2/29/2016 07:34

Here I am, another early morning at a coffee shop studying for this weeks two midterms before work. Thankfully these two are my last two, and they include the written portion of ATC441 and ATC332’s midterm. Of the three I took last week Aviation Law (AMT442) was by far the most brutal; to be honest it wasn’t very fair. However, he supposedly examines the entire classes results and curves according. Therefore I’m not to concerned, but we’ll have to see what happens.

Yesterday I finally reached out to my friend who is in the academy. Astonishingly he’s already on his final performance assessment this week; this means he’s at the end and it is make or break time. I have no doubt he’ll pass, and thankfully it sounds like he’ll be able to choose a facility that is not only close to his home but is also an up down. We talked a bit about how hard it is to maintain faith that you’ll get picked up by the FAA, and it was pretty enlightening.

When you get towards the end of your schooling you have to start focusing on laying a foundation for your backup career plan(s). Doing this really shines the light on the fact that never becoming a controller is a real possibility. Which in turn chips away at the blind faith of “I’ll get picked up if I keep trying.” This is especially hard when you finally get to the point you’ve been waiting years and years for: when you start running problems on the simulator. Here I am finally controlling airplanes but outside of the simulator I’m focused on how I’m going to establish connections to help a future career of airline dispatching propagate. I’m just glad to hear he went through the same thing, and I suspect that this is probably a feeling shared by all ATC students who are rational enough to set backups in place.

Needless to say when you start to let the self doubt of never being able to achieve your dream accumulate, it hurts. Unfortunately this breach appears to be unavoidable, and I suspect you just need to grab a bucket and start shoveling the self doubt overboard before the ship takes on too much and sinks. Let’s just hope the rate at which I’m shoveling is faster then the leak.

Week of Firsts

2/15/2016 21:11

I know this repetitive but I’m falling behind on writing and I’m going to try and make more of an effort to dedicate the time. Now I find myself taking the shuttle again some what frequently so hopefully I can make that time happen. Believe me, this writing thing just doesn’t spew right out of me like rotten yogurt. This article alone took me 31 minutes; that time up there is when I started writing it. Hopefully I don’t look back at this as a considerable waste of time.

So last week was a week of firsts: New Job, MAX SIM, and Valentines Day. Even though I started the week prior to last I consider this previous week my first real week at my new job. I’m still unsure of it to be honest. It’s a rather small company without the tools and reach my previous one possessed. It is a staffing agency, however, the owner is trying to branch out into the more technical positions I am familiar with and make it more of a recruiting firm. This places a rather large emphasis on me doing recruiting which is not what I’m trying to do.  At the same time it offers great potential to help a business grow and expand. This needs to be a launch pad and I will not accept a failure to launch and be grounded indefinitely. I DO NOT want to become a recruiter.

Now, enough of the drowning story that is my work life. Last week was also my first time in the MAX Simulator, and working incoming traffic on ground control. MAX SIM is the 320 degree simulator that simulates a tower cab, and incoming traffic means airplanes that have landed and need to taxi to their terminal for parking.  Both of these aspects introduce quite a learning curve. First, the MAX SIMs lack of ground radar makes you control traffic solely based off of looking out the tower cab. This means you really have to be to look outside and know what you’re looking at. Second, giving “taxi to the ramp” clearances really means you have to know how to formulate routes; which means you have to know the map and what you’re looking at. Working parking traffic into your flow of departing traffic is also another plate to spin and balance. I will start writing more with regards to my progress on the simulator and tips I find that help.

Lastly, last week was also the first Valentines Day in which I was in a relationship. My girl and I have been at it for what I want to say is nine months (this is probably something I should undoubtedly know). Regardless, this is the only serious relationship I’ve ever had in my life and it is a nice change. As time goes on I definitely feel my love for her grow, and it becomes harder and harder to look into to my future and not see her there. Being the cynical ass that I am I can’t end it on that note. So I want to take this time to address what a fucking scam Valentines Day is. Whack a racket, men seriously get bent over for this holiday; I’m still too scared to even look at my bank account and see the aftermath.

Missed Opportunities

November 29th, 2015 15:22

So yesterday was my friends going away party. He will be heading off to the academy soon for terminal. He deserves it and will make a spectacular controller. During this party though another school buddy was in attendance and I learned for the first time he was picked up too, but hasn’t received an official academy date yet (he’ll be going en route). This on top of seeing how many other kids in my school are getting picked up, some of whom I know I could out preform, fills me with some regret. I’m really regretting having failed the BQ this year, and I feel as though I missed a golden opportunity to be picked up by the FAA.

Dwelling on the past is foolish, futile, and a waste of time. The inner wisdom inside me knows I need to shake this shit off my boots and press on. Yet I still can’t help but to succumb to some of these emotions…