JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-LACKLAND, Texas – A dedication and ribbon-cutting ceremony was held Nov. 6, 2020, for the new Aviation Language Training Center at the Defense Language Institute English Language Center.
The new center houses the Watkins Aviation Language Preparation Room and Sirois Aviation Simulation Lab. Its opening is the first step by DLIELC in a long-term plan to renovate the facility with moveable walls and state of the art virtual reality and artificial intelligence technology befitting a world-class aviation training center.
“The United States leads the world in English training for military professionals and continues to raise the bar with this new cutting edge facility capable of serving a multitude of aviation specialties from JTACS and air traffic controllers to fixed wing and rotary wing pilots. We look forward to offering our foreign partners an unparalleled experience and enhance their follow-on training events,” said George Gagnon, Director of International Training and Education, Air Education and Training Command.
The Watkins Aviation Language Preparation Room will serve as the “hangar” bay with a reception for student-led learning, formal language instruction area, and an instructor pilot briefing table, along with several other task-based training areas. The Sirois Aviation Sim Lab will function as the DLIELC “flight line” to create a fully immersive language training experience that replicates student experiences at their follow-on aviation training. International military students can practice their aviation-related English vocabulary in a situation that closely matches that of the operational world so they will be better equipped for communicating with their peers and increase safety and mission success.
The ribbon cutting and dedication was a special event as it marked the opening of new advancements in DLIELC English language training instruction. With the help of AETC’s International Affairs directorate, DLIELC followed AETC’s Pilot Training Next approach by taking a bare minimum facility and adding virtual reality and artificial intelligence technology to our Aviation Specialized English Training.
“Our approach has significantly accelerated change and innovation while transforming the way we learn in line with our CSAF and AETC commander's direction and guidance,” said Col Kouji Gillis, DLIELC commandant.
The ceremony also gave DLIELC an opportunity to pay homage to James A. Watkins Jr., a dedicated and passionate member of the DLIELC team until his passing in March 2020. Watkins served as a DLIELC instructor for 10 years and facilitated over 16,000 hours as an aviation subject matter expert in the Specialized English Instruction Flight within the 332nd Training Squadron. Watkins was also instrumental in the establishment of the original Sirois Aviation Sim Lab at DLIELC; his devotion to the learning that took place under his watch led numerous DLIELC students to success in their follow-on trainings and beyond.
Courses in the new Sirois Aviation Sim Lab and Watkins Aviation Language Preparation Room will begin in January 2021. Follow DLIELC at www.facebook.com/DLIELCLACKLAND for updates regarding the Aviation Language Training Center and English language training.