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$6.5M Wi-Fi project nears completion

  • Published
  • By George Woodward, Sheppard AFB Public Affairs

A $6.5 million project to bring wireless internet service to Sheppard training facilities is nearing completion, with full operational capability targeted for early next year.

The initiative began with 9 facilities using fiscal 2021 end-of-year funding, and with the support of additional funding from 2nd Air Force and Air Education and Training Command, 48 areas of the training campus are fully operational, according to the 82nd Communications Squadron.

“Having Wi-Fi and mobile technology readily available and integrated correctly in the classroom is fundamental a student-centered learning model,” said 82nd Training Group Director of Training and Education Lori Wilson. “Students are able to access the most up-to-date information from a variety of sources quicker and easier than ever before.”

It’s not just about classrooms, either. The project includes outdoor training areas and dormitories as well, which according to Eric West, Director of Training and Education for the 782nd Training Group, is critical to developing a comprehensive training environment.

 

“We need to think of Wi-Fi as a basic utility, like water and electric service,” he said. “It gives our students access to the curriculum anytime and anywhere.”

 

Campus-wide Wi-Fi access not only empowers students, said West, it also allows the cadre to continue the wing’s efforts to transform technical training.

“It opens the door for course developers and instructors to build and implement engaging digital

learning activities like interactive educational games and simulations,” he said. “With technologies like virtual and augmented reality improving exponentially, it's hard to imagine what training will look like in 10 years -- but we now have the opportunity to find out thanks to our leaders' commitment to

bringing Wi-Fi access to our learning environments.”

Wilson agreed, stressing that Wi-Fi is best seen as a tool to help instructors prepare Airmen for their operational missions.

“The instructor will always be the most important part of the technical training experience,” she said. “It allows them to reach students of all learning styles in a way that’s interactive, collaborative, fun and engaging. As a result, learning retention rates soar, and that’s really the bottom line for our mission to train the world’s best Airmen.”

Pending equipment availability and potential supply chain delays, the project is expected to be fully complete by Feb. 1, 2023.