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Challenging curriculum trains aerospace propulsion apprentices
A 361st Training Squadron Airmen-in-Training work on an engine during a training session March 13. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman Adawn Kelsey)
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Challenging curriculum trains aerospace propulsion apprentices

Posted 3/19/2009   Updated 3/19/2009 Email story   Print story


by Airman 1st Class Valerie Hosea
82nd Training Wing Public Affairs

3/19/2009 - SHEPPARD AIR FORCE BASE, Texas -- The 361st Training Squadron at Sheppard Air Force Base trains Airmen to be aerospace propulsion apprentices. The Airmen start their journey when they arrive at Sheppard as basic military training graduates.

These new Airmen have proved themselves to be warriors but do not have the experience or tools needed for their future careers. However, with support of the instructors and the challenging curriculum the 361st TRS has more than 2,450 Airmen graduate each year.

The mission of the 361st Training Squadron is to provide mission ready propulsion airmen, support customers through efficient and effective use of resources, increase empowerment at course level, promote sense of belonging, individual growth, esprit d'corps and provide mentorship to all personnel.

The new students are placed in the fundamentals course where they learn basic maintenance procedures that are the vital building blocks to the Air Force's mission. Following fundamentals they work vigorously through the various blocks of jet engine instruction. They are challenged mentally and physically, and are held to the highest standards of aviation maintenance.

"I am amazed at the quality of Airmen I meet daily, they continually strive for perfection and they truly embody our core values," said Tech. Sergeant Robert Anderson, an instructor at the 361st TRS.

Their learning intensifies when they start basic jet engine system operations, they move on to removal, inspection, and installation of various fuel, oil, and air components. Their instructor continually challenges them with questions pertaining to the engine which increases the airmen's retention and thought processes.

The class then moves on to perform modular maintenance and removal and installation of engine sub components. Their split training between the classroom and hands on enables these unique Airmen to successfully navigate through the Aerospace Propulsion Apprentice course.

The school day begins with an instructor mentoring Airmen providing them with lectures on Warrior Ethos.

"It is a humbling experience, there is so much information that an Instructor can pass on to their Airmen," Sergeant Anderson said.

Then preliminary maintenance procedures such as foreign object debris walks are completed. Time is then split between classroom lectures on theory, operation, maintenance and hands on training on the engines in the lab area.

During this time instructors continually challenge Airmen with questions pertaining to the engine. Instructors hold Airmen to the highest of Air Force standards. To ensure that that the Airmen meet this, the 361st TRS has a student to instructor ratio of 10 to one, which allows student to have about an hour of one-on-one assistance from their instructors, he said.

Airmen round out their training by completing a rigorous combat fitness training program that is led by an instructor and military training leader three times a week.

"They have outstanding work ethic and are ready willing and able to meet the Air Force mission when they graduate from the course," Sergeant Anderson said.

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