Waco: Air Traffic Controller Program Proves Popular

WACO (January 29, 2012)--Texas State Technical College in Waco comes is training future air traffic controllers and the program is pulling in students from across the state.

Carlos Thachar, 22 of Houston, is part of a class of 46 students set to complete the program in April.

They're learning on state of the art equipment which includes radars, voice recognition software that simulates take offs and landings based on the controller's commands.

The software can even create simulated weather conditions.

"Our simulators are to me superior to what the FAA academy has. So these students are getting the best,” said instructor Ramon Claudio, a 30-year-plus veteran controller.

This class will be the second group to graduate.

The next step will be to apply to the Federal Aviation Administration's training academy in Oklahoma.

With more than a century's worth of combined knowledge from the program's instructors and the high tech equipment, students such as Amanda Stoebe, 26 of Houston, say they are ready for what lies a head.

"They make sure they grade us on the same type of scenes that they do at the academy."

Its this kind of rigorous training that's attracting more students to the program.

School officials say they have more than 100 applicants for the next class, which is 25 percent filled.

And these students are in luck.

Once they finish the academy, there will likely be a job waiting for them because many of those now working as air traffic controllers are near retirement age.

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