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New training benefits Arnold lead operations engineers

AEDC team members, from left, Kenny Seale, Robby Carr, Josh Keith, Matt Meacham and others look at an Engine Test Facility turbine lube oil during a walkthrough of a work instruction Sept. 3, during lead operations engineer training at Arnold Air Force Base. (U.S. Air Force photo by Jill Pickett) (This image was altered by obscuring badges for security purposes)

AEDC team members, from left, Kenny Seale, Robby Carr, Josh Keith, Matt Meacham and others look at an Engine Test Facility turbine lube oil during a walkthrough of a work instruction Sept. 3, during lead operations engineer training at Arnold Air Force Base. (U.S. Air Force photo by Jill Pickett) (This image was altered by obscuring badges for security purposes)

Julius Lockett III, an AEDC senior sysystems engineer, explains the use of a venturi to measure flow to fellow AEDC team members participating in lead operations engineer training Sept. 3 at Arnold Air Force Base. (U.S. Air Force photo by Jill Pickett) (This image was altered by obscuring a badge for security purposes.)

Julius Lockett III, an AEDC senior sysystems engineer, explains the use of a venturi to measure flow to fellow AEDC team members participating in lead operations engineer training Sept. 3 at Arnold Air Force Base. (U.S. Air Force photo by Jill Pickett) (This image was altered by obscuring a badge for security purposes.)

ARNOLD AIR FORCE BASE, Tenn. -- A weeklong course for a group of lead Operations Engineers (OE) within the Aeropropulsion Combined Test Force at Arnold Air Force Base was held in September to support their leadership development.

According to Jeffrey Sapach, the C-1/C-2 Group Plant Supervisor for National Aerospace Solutions, the Test Operations and Sustainment contractor at Arnold, the OE leads are the individuals who help run the plant during testing.

“There are operational qualifications that each OE lead has to meet in order to oversee the different sections of the plant,” he said. “As part of that process, the OE leads are learning about the equipment, but they aren’t learning necessarily the ‘whys’ and ‘hows’ of the operating systems.”

Sapach said it was this and the fact that there was a need for leadership training that led to the development of this pilot training geared specifically toward OE leads.

“We had several NAS managers and leaders come to speak to the group, and we used materials from GPiLearn, Ground Test University, and other training websites,” he said. “We wanted to teach them not only how to train their teams, but also leadership skills. A lot of them coming into the training didn’t know how to train or mentor their peers, so we provided them with a lot of tips on how to do that.”

A total of 12 people completed this inaugural OE lead training. Instruction was led by Julius Lockett III, senior systems engineer, with support by guest speakers Jeff Henderson, Mission Execution director; David Hurst, Asset Health Assurance Branch manager; Kenneth Simmons, Aeropropulsion Senior Plant Test Operations engineer; Hunter Beavers, Senior Systems engineer; David Milleville, Aeropropulsion Branch manager; and Jennifer Edmonston, Human Resources Branch manager.

In addition to classroom training, the group also had the opportunity for hands-on learning within the industrial area.

“They would take their engineers and walk through the work instructions with them,” Sapach said. “We also had the trainees put together notebooks as they trained and took notes, so they would have these binders they could refer back to later.”

Not only did the OE leads learn new skills as part of the training, but Sapach believes it was a big morale booster for the group overall.

“It gave them a sense of ownership and shows them management does care about their continued education, professional growth and the work they are doing,” he said.

Sapach said he hopes this training will be implemented as a standard part of OE leads’ job requirements.