STARKVILLE, Miss. --
Several members from Columbus Air Force Base, Mississippi, showcased new innovative technology, the 14th Flying Training Wing is using to revolutionize pilot training, to high school students March 4 at Mississippi State University’s Engineering Day.
MSU invited the base to Colvard Student Union along with several other organizations to partner with Bagley College of Engineering and provide students with a hands on and interactive atmosphere. This year’s theme was “Space.”
Team Blaze connected with over 350 students from Texas, Louisiana, Alabama and Mississippi at the space-themed event geared toward helping high school students start planning the next few years of their life.
“We are bringing high school students here to expose them to engineering and help them start planning for the future,” said Dr. Vemitra White, MSU Bagley College of Engineering director of K-12 educational outreach and support programs.
Capt. Joseph Barton, 14th Operations Group commander’s action group, Capt. Adam Evenson, 37th Flying Training Squadron instructor pilot and 1st Lt. Timothy Crain, 50th FTS instructor pilot, each had a station displaying the new virtual reality training being used in Specialized Undergraduate Pilot Training.
Rather than lecture the students about VR technology, the pilots decided that a hands-on experience would leave more of an impression. Students took turns experiencing what SUPT uses in order to create the world’s best military aviators. The students’ faces lit up as they watched their friends flying a virtual aircraft and were eager to try it themselves.
“The students seem to really enjoy the hands-on aspect of our exhibit,” Barton said. “They get to go up there and see through the eyes of pilots and experience what it’s like to fly a military aircraft.”
In addition to the VR technology, the pilots also taught the class about G-suits, pilot helmets and parachute harnesses; some of the gear necessary to fly in an Air Force aircraft.
Barton said these types of outreach programs are important because it gives Columbus AFB a chance to connect to the local community. He said both officers and enlisted personnel get a chance to inspire students to pursue their dreams.
“The best part was the interaction with the local community,” Barton said. “As a MSU graduate, it was great to be able to help out the university while interacting with potential future Airmen.”