During the Fall/Winter 2019 offering of the Air Force Civil Engineer Basic Course (WMGT 101), two Palace Acquire (PAQ) students had the opportunity to participate in the Officer Field Education (OFE) portion of the course, which is traditionally not attended by civilians. Ms Micah Johnson and Ms Dana Wright completed the full nine-week WMGT 101 course, allowing them gain a broader perspective of the civil engineer mission. (Photo by Maren Kazin)
Air Force Civil Engineers operate in a Total Force environment – Active Duty, Guard, Reserve, and civilians complement each other to provide world-class, worldwide installation support. A foundational component to build this construct is the Air Force Civil Engineer’s initial skill training course for civil engineer officers, known as the Air Force Civil Engineer Basic Course (WMGT 101). This course is taught at The Civil Engineer School at AFIT, located at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio. The 9-week course mirrors the Total Force framework and includes officers from the Active Duty, Guard, and Reserve, as well as civilian students in the Palace Acquire (PAQ) Program.
The first 8-weeks of the course include educational instruction at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base on topics such as the civil engineer organization, asset management, project management, engineering fundamentals, and contingency engineering. The final week of the course is Officer Field Education (OFE). This is a hands-on application of contingency skills at the Silver Flag site on Tyndall Air Force Base, Florida.
This OFE phase of WMGT 101 is the most hands-on part of the course. In their final week of course instruction at AFIT, students must plan, design, and brief their plan to beddown forces at a contingency air base. This includes planning all the utilities, logistics, force protection, and equipment needed for a 1,500 person beddown. Finally, the students mock deploy to the Silver Flag site during the OFE portion of the course. This allows them to learn firsthand the physical and mental aptitude necessary to complete tasks the Air Force requires of its Civil Engineers.
Previously, civilian students would return to their units once the course transitioned from the in-garrison focused topics to the contingency focused topics. This all changed in the Fall/Winter 2019 offering of WMGT 101. Ms Micah Johnson, a PAQ civilian from Grissom Air Reserve Base, and Ms Dana Wright, a PAQ civilian from Travis Air Force Base, approached AFIT with interest in completing the contingency portion of the course.
After receiving approval from the PAQ Program and AFIT, Micah and Dana participated in OFE alongside 79 Total Force civil engineer officers. For the first time, civilian students completed both phases of WMGT 101.
When asked about her participation in OFE, Ms. Johnson said, “The idea of putting classroom ideas to work in the field truly helped complete the learning process of WMGT 101.” Some of the tasks Micah and Dana completed include performing a Dynamic Cone Penetrometer (DCP) test (provides soil strength data and informs airfield pavement design), installing a Reverse Osmosis Water Purification Unit (ROWPU) (provides potable water to base occupants), setting up a Mobile Aircraft Arresting System (MAAS) (slows aircraft during landing), and laying Fiber Reinforced Polymer (FRP) matting (supports rapid repair of airfields).
Ms. Johnson stated, “The WMGT 101 class went leaps and bounds above the standard to incorporate all civil engineer disciplines, and truly pull everyone together as a team.” Ms. Wright added, “I appreciated the opportunity to experience full immersion, which gave me a greater perspective of my role as an Air Force Civil Engineer.” At the graduation ceremony, Brigadier General John Allen, the Air Force Director of Civil Engineers, awarded Ms. Johnson and Ms. Wright an honorary Civil Engineer Basic badge to recognize their achievement, dedication, and initiative.