SHEPPARD AIR FORCE BASE, Texas – Development in the 362nd Training Squadron is transforming the way Airmen learn while cultivating an environment of excellence through virtual reality.
The 362nd hosted an innovation expo on Thursday, July 28, 2022, to demonstrate the new ways they are optimizing the students’ learning environment. Bringing innovators together to discuss problem-solving fundamentals and barriers to ensuring Airmen are properly equipped and mission ready was ideal for the expo and squadron, which conducts quality technical and military training for heavy and tactical aircraft crew chiefs for every type of Air Force aircraft.
Master Sgt. Matthew Reihle, chief curriculum development writer for the 362nd, discussed the process once students start the fundamentals course. He said upon receiving the VR headsets they’ve ordered, each student will get a tablet and VR headset to utilize the software. The equipment will also be returned at the end of the course.
Riehle said they are close to procuring equipment to fully embark on these advancements throughout the course.
“So, I would say in the next six months you will be seeing everything. Students have a VR headset hanging from their book bag,” he said. “Then, we’ll be able to answer more effectively ‘how is this working out?’ and those sorts of things.”
The squadron has used variations of this technology in the classroom, but no student has completed a full course using these advancements. While waiting for the VR headsets, the squadron also plans on upgrading electricity and network connections, so the tablets can be used as government computers.
Tech. Sgt. Kyle Ingram, curriculum development writer for the heavy crew chief course, mentioned the benefits of this software and technology, even when students may be a little hesitant to use VR.
“You can do all of these same lessons from your desk at home, on your computer or on your laptop,” Ingram said. “You do not have to have the headset on. The only thing that requires the headset is the instructors recording the lessons.”
He said the technology also helps students gain familiarity with virtual aircraft before touching the real thing.
“They get to see the aircraft and they get to identify the components on the aircraft,” Ingram said. “They see what the components look like and know where they’re located now before they even get to go see their actual aircraft. It’s a significant help.”
Training the world’s best Airmen is a process and that process is taking place here in regards to evolving technical training through innovation. The innovation expo is part of that process to ensure professionals connect and operate as one team.
“This innovation thing for the Air Force is fantastic and I’m 100% on board with everything that (Chief of Staff of the Air Force Gen. Charles Q.) Brown has said,” Ingram said. “We’ve all operated in our own units for so long that we don’t know how to network and reach out to each other to solve problems. I wanted to make sure this expo was an invitation to everyone across the base and across the Air Force, so that we can all help get through these barriers together.”