Alumni Spotlight - Ethan Duncan

Ethan Duncan portrait


Major: Aeronautics - Air Traffic Control

Minors: Marketing and Business

Graduated: Spring 2023

From his very first visit to Kent State College of Aeronautics and Engineering (CAE), Ethan Duncan felt right at home. The allure of the campus and the immersive air traffic controllers resonated deeply and he felt an immediate sense of belonging and excitement for what lay ahead.

Reflecting on his time at CAE, Ethan recalls the air traffic labs as the highlight of his academic journey. These hands-on experiences provided a glimpse into the real-world career of an air traffic controller. Armed with the skills and knowledge acquired in these labs, Ethan was well-prepared for the trials and victories that awaited him after graduation.

Jason Boergerhoff, a lead air traffic control professor in the CAE with hands-on experience, also significantly influenced Ethan’s career aspirations. His real-world expertise provides invaluable insights into the path of an air traffic control career and ensures the program remains closely aligned with the field.

Ethan’s post-graduation journey led him through rigorous training at the FAA Air Traffic Academy in Oklahoma City, a challenging yet fulfilling experience culminating in graduation at the top of his class. This achievement, while a personal milestone, was also a testament to the skills and knowledge honed at CAE. “Passing the academy is a very tough process and many do not make it through,” Ethan said. “Eleven of the 18 people who started in my class were standing by my side on the final day.”

A typical day in his current role as an air traffic controller with the Federal Aviation Administration, Indianapolis Center, involves monitoring live traffic, studying maps and learning as much as he can. Despite the challenging training he endured, Ethan feels this is the greatest job in the world. The thrill of watching live air traffic is what fuels Ethan’s passion and he envisions further growth in his career and leveraging his experience to become a certified professional controller.

Ethan Duncan portrait

For current students aspiring to careers in air traffic control, Ethan shared some insights and valuable advice:

What are some skills that have served you well through your career?

The skills that have been the most useful are decision-making and dedication. It is a tough job and you have to be fully committed to your career.

Do you have any advice or life lessons to share with current KSU students?

The biggest piece of advice I have is to always give it a chance. Throughout my time at KSU, I questioned if I really wanted to be an air traffic controller. When the application window neared, I took a chance and applied. Once I made it to the academy, I knew I had the career of my dreams.

Any advice on how to transition from college to “real” life?

Be willing to go with the flow. There’s a lot of things in the “real” world you can’t control and you have to be willing to keep moving.

What do you enjoy doing in your free time?

I enjoy reading and watching football. One thing about air traffic control is that your job never follows you home. Once you leave the facility, you’re free to do what you want.

Anything else you’d like to share that is fun/important?

Make sure to do what makes you happy. Life is too short to do something you don’t enjoy doing!

POSTED: Monday, December 18, 2023 02:12 PM
Updated: Tuesday, May 21, 2024 11:40 AM