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Schoolhouse Rock: Sheppard Air Force Base

  • Published
  • By Era Atre
  • Headquarters Air Force, Office of the Director of Civil Engineers

The schoolhouses at Sheppard Air Force Base, Texas, are helping equip the next generation of civil engineers with the knowledge and skills to prepare for the future fight. Since its establishment in 1994, the 366th Training Squadron, also known as the “Mean Machine," has trained joint engineers in a variety of career fields including: Operations Management, Electrical Systems, Pest Management, and Heating, Ventilation, Air Conditioning, and Refrigeration. Each of these career fields has their own civil engineering schoolhouse at Sheppard that provides invaluable skills to Airmen civil engineers.

The training Airmen receive while enrolled at these schoolhouses emphasizes the 366th Training Squadron’s commitment to excellence, resilience, and readiness to face any challenges that come their way.

“Through our immersive training programs, students are exposed to the practical application of Air Force doctrine in real-world scenarios,” said Force Development Manager for Electrical Systems, Chief Master Sgt. Marc Grewe. “They learn not only the technical skills required for their roles but also the importance of adaptability, teamwork, and perseverance in the face of adversity.”

366th Training Squadron leadership believes that warriors on the ground are key to fighting and winning armed conflicts. To prepare Airmen to succeed in future conflicts, the schoolhouses at Sheppard provide ample resources to achieve readiness and resilience. A few of those resources include a mentorship program and quarterly resilience training. The schoolhouses at Sheppard Air Force Base invest in Airmen inside and outside of the classroom. By providing targeted training to build skillsets in specific career fields, Sheppard is committed to preparing Airmen for any potential challenges that may come.

At Sheppard’s Electrical Systems Schoolhouse, Airmen learn everything it takes to keep the lights on at home and downrange. These skills are taught through a variety of courses, with topics ranging from advanced electrical troubleshooting to advanced airfield lighting. The courses equip students with everything they need to succeed as Airmen electricians. Throughout their training, Airmen are exposed to the practical application of technical skills to real-world scenarios. This exposure not only prepares them for future roles in the Electrical Systems career field, but also for responding to potential adversarial threats.

Threats to the mission come in many different shapes and sizes and nobody knows that better than the Airmen at Sheppard’s Pest Management Schoolhouse. Airmen there are taught the importance of mitigating disease vectors, venomous arthropods, and dangerous wildlife. Students have access to hands-on training, including the use of interactive 3D modeling and other tools, to gain skills in identifying new disease vector inspection, pesticide application equipment requirements, and contingency assets. In turn, students are equipped with a better understanding of how to prevent mission disruption and protect personnel health.

Air Force Civil Engineers play an important role in base maintenance. Sheppard's schoolhouses provide Airmen with the skills necessary to maintain critical mechanical systems and keep installations efficient. Not only are Heating, Ventilation, Air Conditioning and Refrigeration Airmen tasked with keeping systems functioning correctly, they also need to be prepared to face modern threats. Master Sgt. Dylan Sheets, HVAC/R Force Development Manager, said that “the schoolhouse has put an increased focus on industrial control systems training. As technology changes and more systems become automated, our Airmen need to know how to operate these systems effectively and in a manner that protects our assets from our adversaries.”

Airmen in any career field need to be focused on preparing for the future fight. For those in the Operations Management career field, this means optimizing assets on base to ensure the Air Force can respond to a threat. At Sheppard’s Operations Management schoolhouse, Airmen are trained in skills that prepare them to handle the strategic thinking that is needed on base. Should the Airmen go on to be warehouse managers, project managers, or take on other roles within the Operations Management career field, they will do so with the skills and knowledge provided to them at the schoolhouse.

Sheppard is making new developments in the coming years that will enhance the Airmen learning experience. Implementing student-centered learning methodologies has meant a more collaborative, problem-solving learning process that equips Airmen with essential skills that will make them mission ready. “Taking an innovative teaching approach not only enhances the learning experience for the student but also creates a more collaborative and interactive relationship between the instructor and the student,” said Grewe.

Sheppard has implemented a variety of simulators and platforms to further emphasize well-rounded, intentional, and immersive instruction for Airmen. In recent years, Sheppard has also incorporated physical training programs, hands-on trainers, and optimized classroom design to enhance Airmen’s learning experience.

As the schoolhouses at Sheppard Air Force Base continue to evolve, so will the next generation of civil engineers.