sealPurdue Education and Career Briefs

October 1998

Purdue helps FAA keep eyes on the sky

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. -- The Federal Aviation Administration is uniting with Purdue and a dozen other universities to head off a looming shortage of air traffic controllers.

By the year 2005, the FAA expects to need 10 times more flight controllers annually -- 2,000 to 4,000 people -- than were hired in 1997. Anticipating the necessity of training thousands of recruits within a short time, the FAA turned to universities to determine which had programs already in place that meet the government agency's pretraining requirements.

The FAA put its stamp of approval on programs at 13 universities, including Purdue University's aviation administration program, which is designed for individuals seeking careers in either airline or FAA management.

"Purdue's aviation administration program is the only curriculum approved for this purpose in the Midwest," said Mike Nolan, associate professor of aviation technology at Purdue. "Students are encouraged to enter our four-year program, or they may transfer into the program from two-year institutions. However, if they want to be hired as an air traffic controller before the year 2005, it is important that they are enrolled in an FAA-approved program for both their junior and senior years."

The seeds for the upcoming air traffic controller shortage were sown during a 1981 strike that caused the FAA to hire, all at one time, thousands of replacement workers. Because they are eligible to retire at 60 percent of their salary after 20 to 25 years, these workers will be able to exercise that option sometime after the year 2001.

Compounding the problem, the FAA's capacity to train large numbers of flight controllers has dwindled. Over the past 15 years, very few flight controllers have retired, leaving open just 200 to 400 new positions a year.

"These university programs provide a foundation for the FAA's own 15-week training course, allowing it to be reduced to 10 weeks," Nolan said. "It's also anticipated that this approach to recruiting air traffic controllers will help reduce the time needed for their on-the-job training."

An air traffic controller's average annual starting salary is $24,700, jumping to the mid-40s after three years on the job. The salary can reach as high as $80,151 per year.
CONTACT: Nolan, (765) 494-9962; e-mail:

Web weaves new concerns about plagiarism

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. -- The World Wide Web is the home for millions of pages of information on every topic that the human mind has been able to conceive. It also is a home for plagiarism.

Stuart Offenbach, a professor of psychology at Purdue University and a national expert in dealing with academic misconduct, says: "The area of professional misconduct has actually changed quite a bit over the past two, two and a half years. The Internet is a whole order of magnitude of a new kind of problem."

Offenbach and others are pointing to the Web as one reason for an increase in plagiarism. "Now to be a good plagiarist it helps to also be a technician and know how to use a computer," he says. "While it's true for words, it's also true for data and photographs. As of now there is no good form of electronic protection to prevent someone from just copying what's on your Web site. With a mouse and a few clicks, you can write the classics."

Plagiarism is the unauthorized use or close imitation of the language and thoughts of another author and the representation of them as one's own work, according to the Random House Dictionary of the English Language.

Offenbach says that as a psychologist, he understands why plagiarism is considered such a large offense in academia and journalism. "It helps if you look at the roots of the word plagiarism," he says. "It means a kidnapping. To the author, it's the equivalent of stealing a child; there's nothing more precious for a writer than his or her own words. It gives you that same sinking feeling as when you walk into your house and find that someone has broken in and stolen a family heirloom that can't be replaced. The emotional impact is devastating to the person who was plagiarized."

Offenbach says the emotional impact for those who are the victims of plagiarism continues when they accuse the plagiarist. "This is an ethical matter, and perhaps a civil legal matter, but there will be no grand jury investigation," he says. "So the accuser has to be the victim and the prosecutor, too, and this takes a large emotional toll."

An on-line plagiarist may get away with the ethical infraction for a while, but Offenbach says that he or she eventually will be found out. "People read everything in their own field, and if plagiarized material is put on the Web, at some point the author will notice," he says.
CONTACT: Stuart Offenbach, (765) 494-6223

Compiled by Sharon Bowker, (765) 494-2077; e-mail,

Purdue News Service: (765) 494-2096; e-mail,

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