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Air University orientation gives wing commanders new tools for their tool box

Chief Master Sgt. Lee Mills, 673rd Air Base Wing command chief from Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, tests out virtual reality Aug. 13, 2019, during the Air University wing commander’s orientation on Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama. Just one of the many projects the attendees had the opportunity to learn about was Air University’s application of virtual and mixed-reality as a means of enhancing the training of Airmen.

Chief Master Sgt. Lee Mills, 673rd Air Base Wing command chief from Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, tests out virtual reality Aug. 13, 2019, during the Air University wing commander’s orientation on Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama. Just one of the many projects the attendees had the opportunity to learn about was Air University’s application of virtual and mixed-reality as a means of enhancing the training of Airmen. (U.S. Air Force photo by Trey Ward)

A wing commander attending Air University’s immersion orientation speaks with a representative from the school, Aug. 13, 2019, on Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama. The event was designed to showcase how Air University has changed since some of them attended courses and the strides made in educating future leaders.

Joyce Vaughn, an MGMWERX representative, speaks with Col. Scott Bryant, 42nd Mission Support Group commander, during Air University’s wing commander orientation Aug. 13, 2019, on Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama. The event was designed to showcase how Air University has changed since some of them attended courses and the strides made in educating future leaders. (U.S. Air Force photo by Trey Ward)

MAXWELL AIR FORCE BASE, Ala. --

Air University has been hosting wing commanders from across the Air Force monthly since January, to highlight how the commanders can leverage the university’s capabilities to benefit their Airmen and the Air Force.

The most recent orientation occurred Aug. 12 and 13, and the program was designed to showcase how Air University has changed since some of them attended courses and the strides made in educating future leaders.

“We hope to change the perception of Air University,” said Capt. Nick Woodbury, AU Governance and Policy project officer. “Many of these wing leaders previously thought of AU just as Air Command and Staff College or Air War College because a lot of them haven’t been here in a long time. We wanted to show them how much it’s changed and the resources we now offer.”

Recognizing the value of their time, John Carter, AU director of operations, said that he and his team partnered with the AU Library to specifically build the orientation around items directly affecting these wing leaders and their Airmen.

“The Library is pleased to be a partner in sharing space for this important initiative,” said Alisha Miles, AU Library Reader Services Division chief. “It’s great to see the University’s amazing resources all showcased in one place.”

One of the goals was to not only spread awareness about what the university currently offers, but to also show the commanders that they have ownership in AU and can help morph it into better serving the Air Force of the future, Woodbury said.

“This was certainly eye-opening for me,” said Col. Devin Pepper, 460th Space Wing commander, from Buckley Air Force Base, Colorado. “I didn’t go here in-residence, so, really, Air University is totally new for me. As a commander, I am responsible for sending folks here, so this was a learning opportunity for me to not only understand how Air University is my university, it’s the Air Force’s university.”

Just one of the many projects the attendees had the opportunity to learn about was Air University’s application of virtual and mixed-reality as a means of enhancing the training of Airmen.

“What Air University is doing by leveraging technology and experiential-learning is really unique,” said Col. Patricia Csank, 673rd Air Base Wing commander from Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska. “I’m walking away from here with some ideas on mixed-reality and some things we can be doing to enhance everyday mission sets at my base.”

The AU orientation is currently scheduled monthly through January of 2020, but Woodbury mentioned that because of the positive feedback from wing commanders, he and his team are hoping to keep it going indefinitely.