Kent State Aeronautics Recent Grad Places Second in His Class at FAA Air Traffic Academy

Associate Dean at Kent State University’s College of Applied Engineering, Sustainability and Technology Richmond Nettey, Ph.D., challenges his students to live by the motto, “either the first or with the first." Eric Bradt, ’14, did exactly that when he placed second in his class at the Federal Aviation Administration Air Traffic Academy in Oklahoma City.

Bradt was one of the eight students from his class of 18 who graduated from the academy. The Federal Aviation Administration Academy is an accredited program that trains future aviation professionals.

“It feels great to achieve this and I’m looking forward to setting new goals and setting the bar higher after each milestone,” Bradt says. “Getting through the academy was an accomplishment, but more hard work is ahead, and I need to keep it up.” Bradt now works at Houston Intercontinental Airport as an FAA Air Traffic Controller at the Houston Air Route Traffic Control Center (ARTCC) where he helps to manage an air space that spans from Houston to San Antonio to the Mexican border.

Nettey said it’s a high honor for Bradt to work in the ARTCC at Houston Intercontinental because it’s a competitive air traffic center near a bustling airport. 

“In the Houston ARTCC airspace, you have international traffic coming from South and Central America, military aircraft traffic coming from Corpus Christi and then of course, you have a good chunk of general aviation traffic as Texas has the largest number of airports in the country,” Nettey says. “However, three other former students of mine from about 20 years ago also work there as full performance level controllers and can look out for Eric and help him as he goes through the journeyman controller stages.”

Bradt took his first and last aeronautics course with Nettey, which gave Nettey the chance to watch his student grow throughout his undergraduate career. During Bradt’s time at Kent State, Nettey guided his professional development. When Bradt graduated from the academy, it was natural for him to write to his former professor.

“I told Dr. Nettey about my completion of the air traffic academy because Dr. Nettey, along with all the professors and staff in the aeronautics department, played a big role in preparing me to be successful after graduation,” Bradt says. “He made sure we had the confidence to capitalize on any job opportunity that presented itself to us, which is critical when turning our education into a career.”

Bradt began his studies at the Air Traffic Academy in January 2015, one month after he graduated from Kent State. Bradt said he was lucky to have such a “smooth transition” from Kent State to the academy because he had a minimal gap between his undergraduate and post-graduation studies. 

Bradt says he also has his education from Kent State to turn to for support.

“Kent State helped me get to where I am now by preparing me and giving me a great foundation of knowledge in the aviation and air traffic field,” Bradt says.

Kent State’s air traffic control program is in the College of Applied Engineering, Sustainability and Technology and provides students with a broad understanding of aviation while concentrating on the essential knowledge, skills and abilities to succeed in air traffic control training. According to its website, Kent State’s program delivers the highest level of air traffic control education available at a post-secondary institution.

Kent State alumna Khristyne Kirk, ’12, also graduated from the air traffic control program Magna Cum Laude and went on to attend the FAA Academy in Oklahoma City. She also graduated from the academy at the top of her class. 

Students studying aeronautics with a concentration in air traffic control have access to peer-tutoring opportunities, lab facilities that provide practical simulation-based training, internships, co-ops and professional development opportunities through trade associations like the National Air Traffic Controllers Association and Kent State’s Air Traffic Control Organization (KAO). Bradt took advantage of these opportunities during his undergraduate career and was involved in KAO since its establishment in 2012.

“Our students should seek to do well here at Kent, but more properly, when they leave here, they should seek to do even better in their professional life,” Nettey says. “Eric’s accomplishment speaks very highly of the caliber of students we have and very highly of the quality of the aeronautics program as well.” 

By Haley Keding

POSTED: Thursday, January 3, 2019 - 8:25am
UPDATED: Tuesday, February 12, 2019 - 5:33pm