Ask an Expert: Robert Rockmaker, President and CEO of the Flight School Association of North America

Posted Tuesday, August 19, 2014

In honor of National Aviation Day, celebrating famed aviator Orville Wright’s birthday, on Tuesday, August 18th, we sat down with Robert Rockmaker, President and CEO of the Flight School Association of North America (FSANA) for a chat about the flight industry, where it’s going and how your aviation career can take off.

Orville Wright would be proud.

Q: What advice would you give students in the College’s air traffic control, aviation flight technology and aviation maintenance technology programs who are looking for promotions and advancement in the aviation field?

Robert: Having or developing the skill sets to work, process and communicate effectively are important ingredients for success, no matter what the career pathway. In the aviation industry, some of the careers such as airline pilot are almost 100 percent driven based on seniority. This model has been around for decades and will most likely remain in place for many years. People who are open to continuous learning and ongoing personal improvement tend to advance in their careers more than those who stagnate.

Today, with the rapid changing face of our planet brought about by high technology, people need to be open to change. Those that can evolve tend to do better over the long haul. As they say, nothing is forever and there are no guarantees in life. People interested in developing their management skills should focus on how to communicate. I believe that ongoing education is important. Learning for life is a motto that I follow and practice.

Q: What skills and technologies should students continually work on and update?

Robert: Both verbal and written skills are important. These form the backbone for most career pathways. Of course, learning new technical skills and techniques is an important part of the career life cycle. I would suggest that people brush up on their basic math skills. Math forms a core element in almost everything we do in one way or the other. There are many ways to re-explore the world of math, especially with the Internet.

With respect to aircraft maintenance, there will always be the need for trained people to provide maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) services on aircraft. The Internet does not provide a platform for the actual work required to maintain aircraft. This is a hands-on career pathway. I encourage people to explore the aircraft technician segment.

Airline and a majority of business jet aircraft require two pilots in the cockpit. On the other hand, it takes a crew of people to perform the maintenance tasks that are required under the FAA regulations. People who enjoy working with their hands should explore the world of aircraft maintenance. Aircraft repair is highly technical and requires ongoing knowledge in order to stay current with the latest trends and techniques.

Q: Why are FAA licensed pilots, commercially licensed pilots and licensed air traffic controllers encouraged to pursue a degree? What is the benefit of returning to college after such experiences?

Robert: Pilots and air traffic controllers must meet specific FAA medical standards in order to be actively involved in their respective careers. In the airline pilot community, a pilot who cannot pass an FAA Class 1 medical exam is not permitted to fly for an airline. In essence, their career as an airline pilot is over unless they are able to regain their FAA medical certificate.

For many years, I have encouraged those who want to fly for a living to consider a post-secondary college degree in another study area. Management, marketing or finance are always good educational pathways when seeking a more diversified educational portfolio. An airline pilot may not be able to fly for a living due to non-passage of the FAA medical exam however he or she, with the appropriate college degree, could move into a management or marketing slot at the airline.

Q: What is the best way for someone to gain experience in the aviation field?

Robert: I have always said that experience is a great teacher. When a person is building and/or expanding their knowledge base, it is almost always beneficial to try and work somewhere within the industry. Becoming a baggage handler or working at an FBO in customer service or pumping fuel can be very educational. Getting a little dirty is OK. The experience cannot be replicated in the classroom or online.

Q: How do you view the future of the aviation? What direction or advances do you see happening?

Robert: Aviation has a bright future and it is an expanding industry, especially outside the United States. The large growth will take place in Asia and the Middle East.

China has just started to open their airspace to civil aviation. China is building over 80 new airports to help accommodate the large growth that is just starting in that region of the world. Up until recently, the airspace over China was totally controlled by the military. It was next to impossible to operate a general aviation (GA) aircraft in China. Today, that is changing. Just three years ago, there was one flight school in China. Today, there are six schools and more on the drawing boards.

In the United States, airline passenger enplanements will grow but at a modest rate. People who want to get to their destination with a rapid deployment will continue to utilize the U.S. airline system that has been developed. Across the U.S., many commercial service airports have seen declines in their passenger traffic. This has been due to the modern day economic depression that we are still coming through. Over time, passenger counts will again rise as the economy continues to stabilize and grow.

As I noted earlier, the large growth in both airline and general aviation will be in China and the Middle East. There are opportunities for Americans to start their aviation careers both in the U.S. and abroad if they so choose.


What other questions do you have for Robert? Leave them in the comments below!  

 Robert Rockmaker, A.A.E. has been in the aviation industry for 47 years, and serves as  President and CEO of the Flight School Association of  North America (FSANA), the first  trade association dedicated to the flight training industry. As a commercial pilot with  instrument, multiengine,  glider and seaplane ratings, Robert also earned an A.S. in Air  Transportation and a B.S. in Air Commerce and continues to study business and  aviation  management. 





Tags: Aviation , Majors and Degree Programs , School of Applied Science and Technology

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Is History the Key to Our Future?

Posted Friday, August 15, 2014

By Dr. John R. Woznicki, Dean
Heavin School of Arts and Sciences

It was the philosopher George Santayana who most famously spoke to the ultimate benefit of knowing our history: “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”

You know this quote, or some version of it, and I am willing to wager that you also have an inherent sense that history, and our knowledge of it, is indeed important to us in some way. Historians are those who, ultimately, chronicle and, in many cases, preserve history.  And they do so not necessarily for the sake of earning a paycheck, but for our benefit. 

That’s why, while reading The New York Times’ article “In Church Attics, Clues to the Private Life of Early America,” it struck me how important it is to still train people as historians. As dean, I oversee the College’s history program, and I was delighted that the article expertly addressed the kind of work that our present-day historians do, work that has components both conventional and progressive.  It is work supported by the kind of skills that would benefit just about anyone in the workforce, from the criminal investigator to the human resources manager and just about everyone in between.


Historians: The Modern Investigators

History work entails looking for information in customary style, painstakingly seeking clues from both primary and secondary sources for leads that will get them closer to the holy grail, the ultimate primary source—in this case, to the actual church records still held at Colonial-era churches.  Ask any detective if this work is akin to a historian’s (or watch any of the episodes in the CSI television franchise). You may also ask any human resource manager if she or he has ever had to research the background of a potential candidate or look back through institutional records for seldom evoked but now relevant policies or interview employees to gain a sense of an undocumented institutional history that might be relevant for their development of a new training program.

As they seek to preserve those primary sources, those original documents that are so valuable to us, they will increasingly require skills in digital media for the preservation or retrieval of information. 

We will depend more and more on folks who are cross-trained with solid skills in communication, research, and in digital information storage, retrieval and analysis as life in the 21st century—life in the information age—becomes increasingly more complex. This will benefit those who are criminal investigators, anthropologists, insurance claim adjusters, human resource managers, etc. 

In the way they tracked down those church records, I believe the historians mentioned in the article would have done very well in any of those professions.

But they chose history. And without the benefit of conducting an interview with them, I might suppose that perhaps part of their decision to choose history as a profession may have been based on our shared sense of the importance of history and our need to know it, to preserve it.

You see, those church records, as the article suggests, hold all kinds of interesting and important (yes, important!) personal information that can offer us many insights into colonial culture and perhaps, our culture at large. Who were we as Americans? Who are we now as Americans? Why is it important to know that Sarah Wood apologized for denouncing infant baptisms? Or that Sarah Blanchard was sorry she skipped a worship service?

How important will the information in those records be 300 years from now?  How important will it be for us to digitize and preserve our history so it is not lost to the ravages of time? 


Using the Past to Change the Future

What we can be sure of is that the historian’s search, even when completed, is never over. It opens up new questions, and it prompts a new search.  Historians give us the opportunity for perpetual examination, so that we may lead interesting, fulfilling lives worth living, and so we may preserve the opportunity for improvement as humans and learn from our mistakes, not doomed to repeat ourselves.

Without our historians and the recording of history, we may lose those opportunities. Preserving the past, and understanding it, should be a shared priority. In that, we can then shape our future.

Tags: Majors and Degree Programs

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7 Essential Student Resources to Ease Your Schoolwork Pains

Posted Wednesday, August 06, 2014

By Kay Howard
Student Affairs Specialist, Learner Support Center


When you have multiple papers and projects due, research topics to brainstorm and exams to study for, time management, or actually finding any time at all, can be a real challenge. How can you keep up with all your assignments, avoid distractions and stay focused?

To increase your productivity and concentration, there is a collection of resources available to you as a Thomas Edison State College student. From 24/7 tutoring to citation shortcuts, use these tools to make your school life easier and get the job done in the time you do have.


This free online plagiarism prevention service offers timely feedback and suggestions to help you improve your writing and citation skills. Turnitin matches the content of your assignment against online resources, research papers, student papers and published articles in order to detect unoriginal content or citation errors. If you have questions on how to use the service, create a profile or submit an assignment, you can review the Turnitin Manual for Students.

Time Saved: Two hours spent reading the same sentence over again and second-guessing yourself. Even longer if you are faced with allegations of plagiarism.



Get writing assistance and live, on-demand tutoring help from expert tutors 24/7. As a free online tutoring service, Smarthinking offers the help you need, when you need it. To set up a personal account, you can find a link to the service in each online course you are taking.

Time Saved: A frustrating evening trying to understand how to solve a confusing math problem. 


New Jersey State Library

As a student at the College, you can get special, free online resources through The New Jersey State Library. Register for a library ID card online and get electronic access to the library’s databases, electronic journals, eBooks, audiobooks and more.

Time Saved: 20 minutes wondering if a source is scholarly enough for your research paper.


Virtual Academic Library Environment (VALE)

VALE provides electronic access to research databases, e-journals and data, digitized primary sources, and newspapers, as well as the world’s largest collection of dissertations and theses. Use ProQuest and EBSCOhost to find relevant sources, and click on the “Cite” link to generate a citation according to the style you need. You can access VALE through myEdison®, under the "Educational" tab in "My Resources.”

Time Saved: Ten minutes figuring out how to properly format an APA citation for a single journal article.


LearningExpress Library

If you are looking for practice tests, tutorials or skill-building exercises, the LearningExpress Library is a one-stop-shop for your academic and career needs. Explore strategies and advice on writing and math skills, prepare for graduate school admissions exams and learn key job interview skills. The LearningExpress Library is located in myEdison® under the "Educational" tab in "My Resources.”

Time Saved: Three hours spent scoring and assessing your own homemade practice test.


myEdison® Student Discussion Board/Textbook Swap

Often an overlooked resource, the Student Discussion Board/Textbook Swap is a forum to post your perspectives on a variety of topics, such as courses, exams, mentors and much more. Buy and sell used textbooks for courses and TECEP® exams from other students. The open discussions are located under the “Student” tab, within “My Resources” and under “Tools & Forums.”

Time Saved: Five minutes per Google search looking for mentor reviews in your upcoming courses.



ProctorU is a convenient testing option that allows you to take a test on your home computer with a live proctor, in real time, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. To use this option, you must have a webcam, specific computer requirements and audio capabilities. You can schedule an exam with ProctorU through a link available in your course space.  

Time Saved: One hour to commute to an appropriate testing location and take an exam in the pen/paper format.

Bonus Time Saved: Several hours of panic realizing that you forgot to schedule your final exam, and the grade must be submitted by midnight.

Do you have any essential time-saving tips that other students might want to know?

Tags: Online Tools and Resources , Study Tips , Time Management

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BSAST Degree FAQ: The Answer to the Second Degree Policy You’ve Always Wanted to Ask

Posted Tuesday, July 29, 2014

By Donald S. Cucuzzella, Assistant Director
School of Applied Science and Technology

I often receive emails from students asking if they can earn a nuclear energy degree and a nuclear energy engineering technology degree under our second-degree policy, particularly if they are enrolled in one of these degree programs already. This is a great question that needs a Thomas Edison State College history lesson to answer, so to help you and all those with a similar burning curiosity, I’m happy to further explain.


I read on the College website that a student can earn a degree in Nuclear Engineering and Nuclear Energy Engineering, after satisfying the Nuclear Engineering degree requirements. My question is, am I eligible to receive the Nuclear Engineering degree if I’m already pursuing the Nuclear Energy Engineering Technology degree?



No. If you are currently in the Nuclear Energy Engineering Technology degree program, there is no second degree program to earn the Nuclear Engineering Technology degree. If you want to further your career in this field, you can always pursue your education and enroll in the College’s Master of Science in Applied Science and Technology in Nuclear Energy Technology Management.

Since the 1980s, the College has offered a Bachelor of Science in Applied Science and Technology (BSAST) in Nuclear Engineering Technology (NET). This degree was popular amongst our military students who had gone through the U.S. Navy’s Nuclear Power School and received college credit toward this degree for their training. In 2011, the College’s School of Applied Science and Technology created a new version of this degree, a Bachelor of Science in Nuclear Energy Engineering Technology (NEET). In 2012, we received accreditation for the new degree from the Engineering Technology Accreditation Commission of ABET. This accreditation status was made retroactive as of October 2010, so any students who started the Nuclear Energy Engineering degree by that date, and then graduated, had an ABET accredited degree.

But what about the graduates from the Nuclear Engineering Technology degree who now want an ABET accredited degree? Glad you asked!

For these students, the College created the Second Degree Program in Nuclear Energy Engineering Technology. To complete this program, students are required to take a minimum of 24 new credits at the College. If you are a student currently enrolled in the Nuclear Engineering Technology degree and think that an ABET accredited degree is more beneficial for your career, you can change to the Nuclear Energy Engineering Technology degree. By switching now, you can save yourself the time and money required to complete 24 new credits, and possibly even more credits should there be any curriculum changes since you first enrolled at the College.

As always, I’m happy to help answer any additional questions about degree programs at the School of Applied Science and Technology. You can email me directly at [email protected], and you might even see your question become the new topic on our blog!


Tags: School of Applied Science and Technology

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5 Surprising Ways Technology Has Changed Since Your Traditional School Days

Posted Wednesday, July 23, 2014



Technology has undoubtedly transformed our lives. Our everyday gadgets now turn tedious actions into the simplest of tasks. Gone are late nights finding and fixing typos on a typewriter. Maps, watches and fax machines seem practically obsolete. And forget forgetting – you can now locate research, set alerts and reminders, and track your digital history – on one handheld device.

Today’s technological advancements have changed the way we work, function, and, ultimately, learn. And, like anything new, these technologies may fascinate, confuse or comfort us. But the impact they have had on education is obvious: the learner now has a clear advantage.

Here are some ways technology has changed since your traditional school days, so you can take every opportunity to learn where, when and how you want.


Spending hours at the library combing through card catalogs, only to find the book you need has been taken out, is now a thing of the past. A simple Google search can yield thousands of results on whatever topic you are searching for. If you are looking for scholarly resources to write a paper, you can access online databases and digital collections from around the world, remotely. Find subject and research guides, ask a librarian and discover “how to” do anything, in a seconds. With access to the world’s research only a click or tap away, you can now research projects and complete assignments easier than ever before, and never worry about what time your library (today, better known as your dining room table) closes.   


Whether your preference lies with the traditional textbook or with an e-book version, the textbook landscape, and how you get them, has drastically changed from their bookstore days. Do you purchase your textbooks online, via MBS Direct? You can find out what books are required for your courses after inputting your course information. Or you can find your textbooks using the Thomas Edison State College Textbook Swap located in myEdison®, a forum designed to help students swap or sell textbooks for the College’s courses and exams. Perhaps you prefer to have a digitized textbook, and download the e-book right then and there, without experiencing any shipping time. With so many textbook format options, the days of “I forgot my book” are long gone.


No more scheduling traditional tutoring sessions that fit everyone else’s schedules - but yours. Through services like, available for free to enrolled Thomas Edison State College students, you can connect to live tutors from any computer with Internet access 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Get one-on-one help as you complete assignments or prepare for exams. Watch as your tutor demonstrates how to solve a complicated math problem, using a live, real-time virtual white boards. Submit writing assignments for feedback and suggestions, and receive detailed, personalized critiques focusing on content, thesis development and grammar. Online tutors, like, can help you learn and understand any subject, wherever and whenever you need it.

Test Taking

The days of paper and pencil tests are over. While this method of testing is still an option, it does pose restrictions upon test-takers, not the least of which are time constraints, distractions and uncomfortable surroundings. Now, using a high-speed Internet connection and a webcam, online proctoring services like ProctorU allow you take tests in any comfortable location, at a time most convenient for you. When you schedule an exam, connect with a real person that will walk you through the exam process and help if you run into any technical issues. Exams are stressful enough, but with ProctorU’s seven-days-a-week service, they get better.

Writing Assignments

If you’ve ever spent long periods of time writing a paper, you may have experienced that after awhile, your focus wanes and your words just seem to blend together. And forget reviewing what you wrote – how can you, when you can’t even think straight? But what if you missed an important citation and accidentally plagiarized, or failed to identify a revision that could potentially impact your grade? Writing services like let you submit papers online and receive a generated report identifying any areas of concern, grammatical errors or potential plagiarism. You can then use that feedback to make the suggested changes to your work, after your focus has returned, of course, and thereby improve your skills to become a better writer.


What learning technologies have you seen develop over the past several years?

Tags: Going Back to College , Online Tools and Resources , Student Services

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