Nashua CCC to add air traffic control and airport management degree courses 
July 11, 2023
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  • Using $1.24 million in FAA and federal legislative grants, Nashua Community College is planning a significant expansion of its aviation education programs, which includes the launch of air traffic control and airport management courses in 2024. 

    “We’re physically expanding in every way — we’re expanding programs and expanding options for students,” said Douglas Mitchell, professor and program coordinator of Aviation Technology at NCC. 

    On July 20, the public is invited to tour the aviation lab at the school’s Industry & Transportation Open House from 2 to 6 p.m. Staff and faculty members will be on hand to answer questions and chat with visitors, Mitchell said. 

    The FAA’s pledge of roughly $459,000 came in the form of a workforce development grant, while $782,000 in funding from the Department of Education’s Fund for Improvement for Postsecondary Education was earmarked by Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H. 

    The funding, which also made it possible to hire another full-time faculty member, update training equipment for students and create scholarship support, “has had a huge impact,” Mitchell said. 

    Another provision in the FAA grant comes as great news for future students: No longer will they have to purchase their own tools, which run about $3,000 per set. The grant sets aside $90,000 for purchase of tools, and, Mitchell said, the funding enabled him to purchase 40 sets of tools. 

    “We will get the word out to all the students coming in that they don’t have to worry about tools,” said Mitchell. He said the tools are expected to arrive in the next week or so. 

    Also upcoming is the school’s Aviation Technology summer camp, for which “youth enthusiasts” can sign up in advance. The half-day program runs the week of July 24 and is open to rising sixth-12th-grade students. 

    Last fall, NCC, which is an FAA-approved training facility, brought back the Aviation Technology degree and certificate programs that prepare students for maintenance careers and to test for their A&P (airframe and powerplant) license with the FAA. 

    NCC Vice President of Academic Affairs Robyn Griswold said industry partner support was crucial in bringing Aviation Technology back from its one-year hiatus and getting new programs off the ground. 

    “Doug and his team totally revamped his curriculum,” Griswold said. 

    “The new curriculum is much more innovative and integrated with FAA standards.” 

    As it prepares to unveil the new programs in fall 2024, NCC’s aviation team is setting up space for the air traffic control simulators, a glass cockpit, and a simulator for avionics, the term that refers to the maintenance of aircraft electrical systems. 

    “Right now, we’re adapting the four-year coursework from Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU) into a two-year associate degree,” Mitchell said. 

    When Nashua’s Daniel Webster College shuttered in 2016, SNHU adopted its Air Traffic Controller program with plans to “move away from offering the program,” Mitchell said. That’s when NCC “stepped up to offer the degree programs.” 

    The air traffic control pathway earns graduates a CTI (Collegiate Training Initiative) certificate, which reduces time students must spend taking their final FAA training in Oklahoma to earn their license. All prospective air traffic controllers undergo the FAA training in Oklahoma for certification. 

    “If you get a CTI certificate, it cuts down on the time you need to be in training, and it makes it more likely you will be hired by the FAA; it gives you a leg up,” Mitchell said.