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Messages - Christopher Stacy

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1
News / Re: ZFW has a new TA!
« on: November 18, 2016, 11:03:50 PM »
Congrats Cameron!

I'm still not sure exactly how ZFW managed to steal you away from us, but I'm certain you will be a tremendously valuable asset to the ZFW training department, much as you were to ZHU.

I wish you the best of luck in your new position, and I sincerely hope you won't forget about your neighbors to the south :)

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News / ZHU Seeks Events Coordinator
« on: November 18, 2016, 10:56:12 PM »
OPEN POSITION POSTING
HOUSTON AIR ROUTE TRAFFIC CONTROL CENTER
EVENTS COORDINATOR (EC)

The EC:

* Reports to the ARTCC DATM and ATM.
* Identifies and develops events to generate traffic and to promote the ARTCC.
* Implements and oversees approved events.
* Coordinates with neighboring ARTCCs to arrange support for ZHU-hosted events, and arranges ZHU support for neighboring events.
* Maintains relationships with virtual airlines, coordinates support for VA-hosted events affecting the ZHU airspace.
* Develops and distributes marketing material (graphics, news posts, forum posts, etc) to promote events and the ARTCC.
* Leads and manages events division of ZHU.

Core Requirements

The successful candidate:

* Must have at least a Controller rating.
* Must control at least the minimum number of hours required by the ARTCC Standard Operating Procedures to maintain active membership.
* Must be an active member of the network in good standing.
* Must have excellent written and oral communication skills.
* Must be able to work in a team environment.

Highly Desired Skills and Abilities

The successful candidate will:

* Possess a high degree of energy and commitment appropriate to the requirements of the position.
* Set an example as an active controller both during events and normal daily operations. The best leaders lead by example.
* Demonstrate at a minimum the qualities of understanding, patience, maturity and when necessary, restraint.
* Bring a verifiable level of experience sufficient to ensure the ability to manage a complex aviation environment.
* Understand and commit to a high level of participation with the knowledge that the position requires considerable devotion and commitment of time.
* Instructor or Mentor experience on the network is a plus.
* Experience and certification within the ARTCC is a plus. Candidates currently active on the roster will be given first consideration.
* Previous managerial or administration experience on the VATSIM network or real world is a plus.
* Have no significant disciplinary history or record of unprofessional behavior.
* Must be available for regular correspondence (via the primary means of e-mail), as well as routinely checking VATUSA forums and other outlets for official notices.


Candidates can expect an initial evaluation of their application after which they may be contacted for a comprehensive interview.

Applications should include:

* Full Name, active e-mail, and VATSIM CID
* Resume
* Plans and vision for the ZHU ARTCC Events

APPLICATIONS MUST BE RECEIVED NO LATER THAN 23:59Z, November 26th 2016.

Please send applications, along with a brief explanation of your plans and vision for the ARTCC, to the Houston Air Traffic Manager: atm (at) zhuartcc.org

3
News / New ZHU DATM
« on: July 06, 2016, 02:13:43 PM »
The Houston ARTCC is please to announce that Tyler Milligan has been selected as ZHU's newest DATM. Tyler has a long history with Houston as both a controller as well as a Mentor. Tyler has made many valuable contributions to ZHU over the years, and we are all excited for a bright future with him as the DATM.

4
News / ZHU Seeks Deputy Air Traffic Manager
« on: June 22, 2016, 02:51:17 PM »
OPEN POSITION POSTING
HOUSTON AIR ROUTE TRAFFIC CONTROL CENTER
DEPUTY AIR TRAFFIC MANAGER (DATM)

The DATM:

* Monitors the day-to-day activities of the ARTCC.
* Reports to the ARTCC's Air Traffic Manager. 
* Assists in the development and execution of ARTCC projects.
* Maintains an on line presence on the VATSIM server.
* Functions as ARTCC senior staff member. Attends periodic meetings to report on ARTCC activities and to stay abreast of VATUSA issues and policies.
* Assists in coordination of position assignments and position restrictions when necessary.
* Provides guidance and help to assigned controllers or guests.
* Conducts testing and training as defined, and in accordance with, the VATUSA Training SOP.
* Optionally, conducts additional training and testing on area-specific subjects. 
* Assumes the duties of the ATM when he is unavailable.

Core Requirements

The successful candidate:

* Must have at least a Controller rating.
* Must control at least the minimum number of hours required by the ARTCC Standard Operating Procedures to maintain active membership.
* Must be an active member of the network in good standing.
* Must have excellent written and oral communication skills.
* Must be able to work in a team environment.

Highly Desired Skills and Abilities

The successful candidate will:

* Possess a high degree of energy and commitment appropriate to the requirements of the position.
* Set an example as an active controller both during events and normal daily operations. The best leaders lead by example.
* Demonstrate at a minimum the qualities of understanding, patience, maturity and when necessary, restraint.
* Bring a verifiable level of experience sufficient to ensure the ability to manage a complex aviation environment.
* Understand and commit to a high level of participation with the knowledge that the position requires considerable devotion and commitment of time.
* Instructor or Mentor experience on the network is a plus.
* Experience and certification within the ARTCC is a plus. Candidates currently active on the roster will be given first consideration.
* Previous managerial or administration experience on the VATSIM network or real world is a plus.
* Have no significant disciplinary history or record of unprofessional behavior.
* Must be available for regular correspondence (via the primary means of e-mail), as well as routinely checking VATUSA forums and other outlets for official notices.


Interested candidates should be aware that this is not an entry-level position and not for the inexperienced. The workload is considerable and should not be taken lightly. Only those who understand the requirements and can make the appropriate commitment should consider applying. Candidates can expect an initial evaluation of their application after which they may be contacted for a comprehensive interview.

Applications should include:

* Full Name, active e-mail, and VATSIM CID
* Resume
* Plans and vision for the ZHU ARTCC

APPLICATIONS MUST BE RECEIVED NO LATER THAN 23:59Z, June 28th 2016.

Please send applications, along with a brief explanation of your plans and vision for the ARTCC, to the Houston Air Traffic Manager: atm (at) zhuartcc.org

5
General Discussion / Nice!
« on: March 11, 2015, 09:14:18 PM »



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NOTAMs / Requesting assistance from Supervisors
« on: January 19, 2015, 01:44:57 PM »
Quote from: Garen Evans
That's a good point.  Perhaps it really is a philosophical question. Should controllers be expected to digest the current situation and make a well reasoned judgement, or should they mechanically react to what is presented to them "in the moment", and defer more important decisions to nominally more superior "supervisors".  In my opinion I would rather my controllers exercise a proactive sense of good judgement, rather than wait until a conflict occurs between two aircraft, and I'm sure most would agree that's the essence of common sense.  I should hope all controllers on the network are capable and proactive.  Leaving a decision to a supervisor is tantamount to "passing the buck", in my opinion.

Just for the record, I don't really think of using .wallop as a "pass the buck" method. As a supervisor it is my job to deal with this sort of thing. I don't think controllers should be expected to necessarily be able to take the time needed to get in contact with an unresponsive pilot, particularly when the pilot is new and may not have even managed to sort out using text or private messaging in their pilot client yet. Honestly this can be a very time consuming process, and I don't think it's reasonable to expect that a controller should always be able to spare the time necessary, particularly when busy.

The issue isn't that supervisors are somehow superior to controllers (they aren't), or that controllers are incapable of dealing with conflicts in their airspace without help (in most cases, they are quite good at this). The issue is that it's not always easy for a controller to take the time needed to teach a pilot how to respond to PMs or tune a frequency, particularly when the pilot is very new to Vatsim (I find that this is almost always the case among non-responsive pilots who aren't simply AFK). I have always advised my controllers to use all of the tools at their disposal to quickly and efficiently resolve problems, and .wallop is another tool available to them.

And just for the record, the idea of waiting for an impending conflict before eliciting a supervisor seems to indicate that the function of a supervisor is always disciplinary in nature. This isn't necessarily the case, and in some cases may actually limit the options of the supervisor. If I receive a wallop and by the time I see the aircraft in question, a conflict is imminent, this leaves me with little option other than to immediately resolve the situation (unfortunately, my options for this are extremely limited). If, on the other hand, I receive the wallop while this pilot is still off by himself and not in conflict, this gives me the additional time required to potentially make contact with the pilot, and ideally get the pilot in contact with the controller, which avoids the conflict before it happens.

Just my $0.02

7
Events / Cross the Pacific WB 2014 - Why was it never promoted?
« on: November 02, 2014, 08:29:44 PM »
Quote from: Matthew Bartels
Worldflight was a separate event from this.

Aah, ok gotcha. I saw a bunch of aircraft and staffed airspace and didn't realize there were 2 events happening in the same place at the same time

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Events / Cross the Pacific WB 2014 - Why was it never promoted?
« on: November 02, 2014, 05:37:39 AM »
Just for the record, I think it's actually Worldflight (http://www.worldflight.com.au)

9
The Control Room Floor / C1 Controller seeks I1 in ARTCC
« on: November 01, 2014, 03:39:33 PM »
Quote from: Justin Loehner
to be disparaged and then dismissed as tripe is not very motivating for a controller to ever want to teach

As I mentioned, none of my post was directed at your personally or intended to be disparaging. Quite the contrary, I find teaching to be extremely rewarding. I just wanted to take the opportunity to address the idea that a mentor or instructor position is a form of "promotion"

10
The Control Room Floor / C1 Controller seeks I1 in ARTCC
« on: November 01, 2014, 03:19:15 PM »
I think this brings up a couple of points which are worthy of discussion. Your post seems to echo a sentiment that I have come across before, which is the belief that Mentor and Instructor ratings are part of the natural progression of a controller's career. I have been approached by controllers in the past who seem to think that once you have obtained your C1 rating, you should immediately proceed to become a mentor and instructor in the same way that obtaining your S2 means it's time to start working on S3. In my opinion this is quite far from the truth. Perhaps the scalar nature of controller ratings on VATSIM has led to this belief, the I1 is above the C1 and thus is higher up the ladder and must be more important.

It is interesting that you refer to an Instructor position as a "promotion", in the sense of being passed up for promotion. Perhaps I am unique, but I do not see a Mentor or Instructor position as a promotion at all. Instead, I think of a training position as an additional task. That is to say, instruction is a duty one undertakes in addition to whatever other roles they may have. Much in the same way that ARTCC staff have duties which they have undertaken in addition to their roles as controllers, I think that instructors are merely controllers who have volunteered for the additional work of training new members.

I think when we are students, we learn to look up to Instructors and Mentors as people of higher rank than ourselves, and perhaps rightfully so. After all, these are the people who not only passed on their knowledge and experience, but also determined when we were ready to control online and ready to take our exams and OTS's (and hold our fate in their hands while deciding the outcome of an OTS ). I think perhaps that it is easy to still think of Instructors as being of a higher "rank" when one becomes a C1. I don't really see it this way though. In terms of controlling ability, I think of an Instructor as being generally the same as a C1. In fact, some of the best controllers I have known on VATSIM have never been (and have no desire to be) involved with training.

I think the things that make a person a good instructor are different from those which make them a good controller. The tasks associated with controlling and instructing are very different, and in order to be an effective instructor it is necessary to master both. Obviously in the course of obtaining a C1, we learn the skills necessary to be an effective controller; however this does not teach us how to be effective instructors. An S2 trainee learns how to sequence VFR aircraft in the traffic pattern, but the task of the instructor is to effectively convey this knowledge and experience to the student, and to make the *student* good at sequencing aircraft. It can sometimes be difficult to teach a student to "see" a situation in the same way we do, and to effectively utilize the tools at their disposal to handle a situation effectively.

In addition to this, instructors must be more than mere faucets of information from which students may drink or drown. Rather, they must often provide *motivation* as well. In my (still ongoing) time as an instructor, I see my role as not only teaching students how to control in the way I do, but also to teach them to enjoy controlling the way I do. More than once in my career as an instructor I have seen students who are literally ready to give up on controlling having faced a number of instructors who simply spew information and expect the student to grasp bits of knowledge as they fly by. Even worse, there are many who merely wish to hold the rank of MTR or INS as a badge of seniority and have no interest whatsoever in the success or failure of those they teach. My point is not to rant about ineffective instructors, that will always be an unfortunately reality in an environment that operates on the scale that VATSIM does. My point is that when faced with these students, my task was *not* one of teaching them to control at all. My task was to teach them to enjoy controlling again first, and only then could I worry about passing on skills and knowledge.

Overall, it is not enough to be a good controller. Nor is it enough to be a good teacher. You must be a good controller, *and* a good teacher, *and* a good motivator. Perhaps it is counter-intuitive, but the mark of a good instructor is not the skills and abilities they posses. Rather, the sign of a good instructor is in the skills and abilities of their students. So for anyone who has spent some time as a mentor and thinks they are ready to become an instructor, my question to you is this: Who are your students? How many of them have become C1s? How many of them are even still around? When I think about my (reasonably successful, though certainly not stunning) career as an I1 I don't point to what I can do, or what I have done. I point to what those I have taught can do, and what they have done.

I would also like to take the opportunity to address the idea of transferring to another ARTCC in order to become an instructor. I expect many people will point out (rightfully so) that it takes a significant amount of time to gain the necessary familiarity with the airspace and procedures of different facilities before you can effectively teach that information to students. As such, I won't discuss that in detail other than to say that this is very much true. What is also important (and sometimes overlooked), is familiarity with the culture and the student body of the ARTCC in which you teach.

I don't think anyone would argue that the ARTCCs of VATUSA have very unique cultures. While we all follow the same procedures, there are many areas in which we control and operate differently. I don't expect that flying in ZHU or ZJX is going to be the same as flying in ZNY or ZLA. If nothing else, the difference in density and traffic volume alone make for a very different experience, both as a pilot and as a controller. One of the side effects of this is that the ARTCCs *do* have their own unique cultures. Personally I think this is a good thing. I enjoy flying in many different areas and getting a different local flavor depending on where I am. As an instructor, it is not enough to know the policies and procedures at a high level (as in "how to vector airplanes"), nor is it enough to know the policies and procedures of a particular facility. You must also be familiar with the culture of the environment in which you are teaching, and I think this can take longer than learning the airspace.

While it is impossible to put any kind of exact number on this (I would *never* say "You must be a member of an ARTCC for <X> days/months/years before you should be an I1), I can absolutely guarantee without hesitation that I would never consider making someone a member of my training staff until they are extremely familiar with not only the airspace, but also the culture and the students of the ARTCC. Anything else would be a formula for disaster.

Please be aware that *none* of this is directed at you personally. I don't know you, and I don't know your abilities and experience. You may well be the best teacher in VATUSA. I simply wanted to address the perception of instructors and mentors as senior ratings to which one is promoted, which seems to be quite common.

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