WRIGHT-PATTERSON AFB, Ohio -- The United States Air Force’s Education with Industry, or EWI, program dates back to 1947. In its 73-year history, it has seen over 6,000 Fellows from more than 35 career fields loaned out to industry for a once in a lifetime behind the scenes look at some leading industry partners, too many to name here. Some of these Fellows went on to incredible career achievements, such as 1996 EWI alum and 2020 mid-tour guest speaker Maj. Gen. Michael J. Schmidt, a four-time program executive officer, now overseeing the command, control, communication, intelligence, and networks (C3N&I) at Hanscom AFB, Mass.
“The EWI program was one of the best, most useful, experiences of my career. The perspectives I gained and the relationships I built during my EWI tour really helped me bridge the government/industry divide and I think made me more successful as a program manager in terms of partnering with industry to deliver war-winning capabilities,” said Schmidt.
After their experience, EWI Fellows return to the Air Force and, as of 2021, the Space Force, having gained incredible knowledge of industry best practices, culture, recruiting and talent management, innovation, contracting, acquisition, and many more aspects of business. So, you may ask, why should 2020 – even in the middle of global pandemic – be any different?
Roughly 60% of EWI Fellows have been working completely virtually during the COVID-19 pandemic. Most Fellows physically moved themselves and their families to the local area of their industry partner in hopes that we can return to offices and work centers as soon as safe and practical. Despite the shift to hybrid remote work, as noted below, this year’s EWI Fellows have already made incredible accomplishments, learned immeasurable things from industry partners, and brought each of their own unique perspectives to the industry partners. It is a symbiotic relationship of mutual growth.
The 2020-2021 class of 77 EWI Fellows includes 52 officers, 10 enlisted, and 15 civilians, from 35 Air Force specialties across 45 industry partners. It is also worth noting that 2020 is only the third year that enlisted members have participated in this unique opportunity. There are enlisted representatives participating from 10 Air Force specialties ranging from Staff Sgt. to Master Sgt.
“Every single Fellow amazed me from their mid-tour projects and overall knowledge and attitude," said Chief Master Sgt. Keith Castille, EWI advocate and HAF/A1DI enlisted force development chief. "It's remarkable how each and every one of these professionals are so passionate about what they are doing and how they are going to bring this back to our Air and Space Forces. I'm excited to share this with the entire Air Force and Space Force to get more recognition of the program and more understanding why EWI is important not only to our teams but the industry partners we collaborate with.”