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Idea of Global Mentors?


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Not sure if this has ever been raised, discusses, raised and discussed and shot down, or anything to that effect, but has anyone suggested a Global Mentoring program? I do understand that local ARTCC's are responsible for training, but many times instructors and mentors are hard to find due to lack of them or schedule conflicts. If there was some sort of voluntary Global Mentoring program available, this may help fill the gap for this possible void.

 

I don't think they should mentor in regards to local SOP's, but maybe just basic stuff like helping run a Sweatbox, teaching some VRC techniques, things like that.

 

Just a thought.

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Hm...to expand on your thought - wouldn't it be great if we had a group of Instructors or Mentors who would teach the basics of even local (DEL thru TWR) operations, how to use VRC, and other essential basics, and then p[Mod - Happy Thoughts] them along to their requested ARTCC so they could then train them on the SOPs and specifics for their airspace?

 

Oh wait. We had that. It worked. Unfortunately, it's now gone.

 

VATUSA team - why don't we try bringing something like that back?

Nick Bartolotta - ZSE Instructor, pilot at large

 

"Just fly it on down to within a inch of the runway and let it drop in from there."

- Capt. Don Lanham, ATA Airlines

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Hm...to expand on your thought - wouldn't it be great if we had a group of Instructors or Mentors who would teach the basics of even local (DEL thru TWR) operations, how to use VRC, and other essential basics, and then p[Mod - Happy Thoughts] them along to their requested ARTCC so they could then train them on the SOPs and specifics for their airspace?

 

Almost spit out my coffee laughing....

 

The VATUSA Academy was the best thing to come out of VATUSA since I started teaching. It greatly supported local ARTCC training staffs in that all students came to the facility with the basics, and it took minimal time to get them familiar with local procedures, then on the scopes.

 

Now to the other extreme where there is no real direct support from VATUSA in training controllers and with the ill-conceived GRP being shoved down facility's throats, it takes an incredibly long time (relatively) to certify someone to even get on the scopes. Let alone being able to plug into the major airports.

 

The demise of the VATUSA Academy was (if we are to believe what we've been told) due to lack of INS/MEN support. Just as there is difficulty in keeping quality Instructors and Mentors engaged at the local ARTCC level, it's even more difficult to do so at the division level.

 

C'est la via.

-Dan Everette

CFI, CFII, MEI

Having the runway in sight just at TDZE + 100 is like Mom, Warm cookies and milk, and Christmas morning, all wrapped into one.

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Hm...to expand on your thought - wouldn't it be great if we had a group of Instructors or Mentors who would teach the basics of even local (DEL thru TWR) operations, how to use VRC, and other essential basics, and then p[Mod - Happy Thoughts] them along to their requested ARTCC so they could then train them on the SOPs and specifics for their airspace?

 

Almost spit out my coffee laughing....

Haha me too.

 

The idea of brining back the academy was talked about before, but VATUSA is going forth with other plans first. If it doesn't work, the talks might start again. It's also been suggested that ARTCCs create their own academies (I think a few actually have).

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It's also been suggested that ARTCCs create their own academies (I think a few actually have).

 

AKA, exactly how it worked for years before the academy came along...

 

Centralize, de-centralize, centralize, de-centralize, centralize, de-centralize... the pendulum never stops swinging in corporate structures and it seems VATUSA is no exception.

Tim Krajcar

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My thought's on the "Global" were more along the lines of Regional (so maybe I should rephrase that). But my objective was to help new comers and returing controllers out, if possible. Running a sweatbox session isn't really ARTCC specific if someone just wants practice in general controlling.

 

Would it really be difficult to set up some form of sign-up sheet and see if there is interest?

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I was one of the proponents of removing the VATUSA academy. It was a heavy, bureaucratic structure that flat didn't work. It worked great for a little while, but the problem is that it was near impossible to staff the place with instructors after a while. We went through all kinds of gyrations from volunteers, to mandating (!!!!! in a virtual hobby!) instructors to serve at the academy, and I'm sure some variations on those themes. They.Did.Not.Work. The academy was hurting for instructors so bad. Instructors would have sessions and not show up. Students would wait and wait for a cl[Mod - Happy Thoughts]. And a lot of times, students availability was odd, and couldn't be accommodated by the academy training schedule. They were left out in the wind most of the time. Again, the academy did not work.

 

Sorry.

 

In reality, the academy was flawed from the beginning. If VATUSA really wants to help the ARTCCs in an academy structure, it can. In fact, it would be great. You have to remove all of the human interaction. This is not a business where you can pay people to do things like instruct. People's goodwill only goes so far.

 

Again, sorry. That's a bit of reality.

 

The "academy of the future" would have to be technology based. Video lessons, reading material and the whole thing. As far as I can tell, Alex and crew are moving in that direction. I applaud that. I applaud the wisdom they're demonstrated to not go to back to a system that at best was...mediocre, and to try something else that may work a little better.

 

I admit to being a little....confused lately at the outcry at the (inferred word here) "evil forces" that removing the "amazingly working academy" and totally shafted VATUSA. You may want to take a reality check and ask yourself how much you really knew about how the academy functioned, especially towards the end. As I said above, the academy worked great in the beginning. It failed because of how m[Mod - Happy Thoughts]ive it had to be to support what it was required to do. We don't have the manpower resources to pull it off.

Fred Clausen, vZAB ATM

ZAB real life

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I really enjoyed the academy in that students came to us and knew darn near every aspect of the controller client, how to connect to the network, how to connect to sweatbox, etc. That was huge in my mind. It saves a lot of instructor time. *Note: VATUSA has some things in the works that will help in that regard. Huge step in the right direction. *

 

What I didn't like about the academy is that it was pretty much 50/50 if the student would come back with proper controlling skills or not. Actually, it was more along the lines of 80/20, in that roughly 80% of the cases, we ended up having to "unlearn" and reteach many aspects of the controlling they were taught at the academy, because they were just plain incorrect. We really like getting our students fresh with no prior knowledge so that we can be sure they are learning the right way and the right things from the start.

 

As Fred also mentioned, it was a beaurocratic mess. Not that it wasn't run well, since I'm sure they did the best they could, but the time and resources just weren't there. They had big expectations, but small resources. The concept of an "academy" in general was revolutionary for its time, and I don't think the overall concept is a bad one at all.

 

But since this thread isn't about the academy, Brian, I don't think there's anything wrong with your idea. There's nothing wrong with controllers getting together and running sweatbox sessions. In fact, I think it's fantastic. While I might rather see one of my controllers spending that time online, I definitely recommend practicing your skills in a sweatbox session every now and then too, where you have the ability to stop the problem, look at what's happening, etc. I say go for it. See what kind of response you get and how many people would be interested.

Bryan Wollenberg

ZLA!

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I'd also like to point out, again, that ARTCCs are more than welcome (even encouraged) to set up group training sessions. Nothing is stopping any of the ARTCCs from running a Teamspeak session on how to setup the radar client, or even teach ATC that way. Nothing is stopping you

 

I have played around with ideas in my head regarding "floating" instructors/mentors to help ARTCCs who are understaffed, but I don't see any benefit coming from it. You simply have to know local procedures to be an instructor and there isn't much of a way around it.

 

Apart from phraseology and some of the most basic ATC procedures, which are pretty easy and quick to learn, you can't standardize training. ZLA has different procedures than ZMA, for example. So a group mentoring session can really only teach you what you already know, or can read in the docomeents.

Alex Bailey

ZMA I-1

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I admit to being a little....confused lately at the outcry at the (inferred word here) "evil forces" that removing the "amazingly working academy" and totally shafted VATUSA. You may want to take a reality check and ask yourself how much you really knew about how the academy functioned, especially towards the end. As I said above, the academy worked great in the beginning. It failed because of how m[Mod - Happy Thoughts]ive it had to be to support what it was required to do. We don't have the manpower resources to pull it off.

 

Reality... checked. Thanks Fred. Didn't mean to question all your experience (both on VATSIM and in real world). Considering the 75 hours I spent working on the technical parts of the Academy (KUSA and 90% of the ACSim/TWRTrainer files, SID/STAR creation, airport diagram, taxi routes came from my computer), I have no idea how the Academy worked, supposed to work. No, I wasn't around at the end, but as a concept and the first couple of cl[Mod - Happy Thoughts]es were indicative of an "amazingly working academy" for it's time. So, thanks for the reality check suggestion, taken and p[Mod - Happy Thoughts]ed. Next please?

 

Not that it wasn't run well, since I'm sure they did the best they could, but the time and resources just weren't there. They had big expectations, but small resources. The concept of an "academy" in general was revolutionary for its time, and I don't think the overall concept is a bad one at all.

 

This was the only true reason the Academy failed. Time and resources in a volunteer organization, for what it was trying to accomplish, was it's downfall. It was truly innovative for the time, but unfortunately failed for the above reason.

 

Apart from phraseology and some of the most basic ATC procedures, which are pretty easy and quick to learn, you can't standardize training. ZLA has different procedures than ZMA, for example. So a group mentoring session can really only teach you what you already know, or can read in the docomeents.

 

I fail to see how this is an accurate [Mod - Happy Thoughts]essment. You'll have to excuse my inexperience and naive nature, but the basics from how to issue a basic IFR clearance, to controlling traffic in a pattern are things that are common anywhere you go. People seriously underestimate the value to training staffs of having students who already have the base knowledge and core concepts down (won't even go into the time it saves not having to teach/troubleshoot setting up their client and how to use aliases, etc). This significantly reduces the training time at the local ARTCC.

 

And those who are of the mindset of "here's a link, go figure it out" are pisspoor teachers. Yes local procedures vary radically from facility to facility, but despite some local knowledge, you still clear aircraft generally the same way, you still taxi aircraft generally the same way, and you still run local control generally the same way. Getting students that already have this fundamental grasp allows local ARTCC's the ability to just focus on the facility specific information.

 

Personally, I like the global/regional mentor idea. However, I think it's going to end up just like the Academy, at best not enough resources, and at worse a total breakdown in standardization. But, unless there are the people willing to volunteer to help out, it won't happen. I won't even touch the hyper-sensitive fiefdom issue of "mentoring" someone from another facility.

-Dan Everette

CFI, CFII, MEI

Having the runway in sight just at TDZE + 100 is like Mom, Warm cookies and milk, and Christmas morning, all wrapped into one.

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  • 3 weeks later...
There's nothing wrong with controllers getting together and running sweatbox sessions. In fact, I think it's fantastic. While I might rather see one of my controllers spending that time online, I definitely recommend practicing your skills in a sweatbox session every now and then too, where you have the ability to stop the problem, look at what's happening, etc. I say go for it. See what kind of response you get and how many people would be interested.

 

This would be nice, as during quiet periods on the network, I'd have much more fun running a sweatbox or controlling in a sweatbox run by a fellow S-1. Currently, only mentors can run sweatboxes, which kinda limits its use. While I understand that you have good reasons not to let S-1's play around with ACsim, I wonder if there's a way to make it work. Can any modifications be made to ACSim/TWRtrainer such as hard-coding in the IP they must connect to, so that non-mentors can have access to it?

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  • 3 weeks later...

A new VATUSA Academy was being discussed and it was exactly what Fred said, a self-paced instruction system that was accomplished by the student which gave them a familiarity before beginning any operational training.

 

With the addition of the GRP it became a question as to how it would fit but there were good ideas being spun around. I'm sure once Alex gets the rest of the housekeeping done with what is left to fix, he and Gary will figure out if it is feasible to bring something like that back.

 

I know I would certainly like to see the effort made since any help is of course appreciated but as Fred said, we have to keep the structure and goals realistic.

Jon Standley

Private Pilot ASEL/AMEL/IFR/LTA

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You guys are right, but I have put the idea on the back burner for the time being. I believe there are some more pressing matters to deal with, and I'm the type of person that wants to make sure it gets done right the first time so it may take a little longer to ensure a better system. Realistic time frame for beginning to work on the "video" academy idea would be atleast a couple months out, because I need to do a complete overhaul of the training department. To say the least, I need to finish the housekeeping as Jon said before I can start to shake things up. I'd also like to wait and see what comes from the GRP review as well, which should be completed by the end of March to my knowledge.

 

Right now the training department in VATUSA is functioning at an acceptable level, so I don't want to shake things up until I have established some groundwork first. With all developments, it takes a solid base to be successful. When I accepted the position, I was ready to start burning the barns down, but now that I have a great handle on how the training department is functioning, I think we can afford to wait a little while longer because the results will be far better and more complete than a quick fix.

Alex Bailey

ZMA I-1

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