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Virtual bootcamp trains new test engineers

Test Engineering Bootcamp

Maj. Eric Vanley, a 96th Operations Group Test Engineer Bootcamp facilitator, instructs students virtually during a simulated test exercise June 5 via Microsoft Teams at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla. Bootcamp students were able to interact with instructors via video and audio and could ask questions via text in a chat window. The course introduces new test engineers to 96th Test Wing-specific processes, planning, execution and reporting. (Courtesy photo)

Test Engineering Bootcamp

Maj. Eric Vanley, a 96th Operations Group Test Engineer Bootcamp facilitator, instructs students virtually during a simulated test exercise June 5 via Microsoft Teams at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla. Bootcamp students were able to interact with instructors via video and audio and could ask questions via text in a chat window. The course introduces new test engineers to 96th Test Wing-specific processes, planning, execution and reporting. (Courtesy photo)

EGLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. --

Due to COVID-19 restrictions, the 96th Operations Group developed an innovative way to host their week-long, quarterly “Test Engineer Bootcamp” course here.

Approximately 15 enlisted, officers, civilians, and contractors participated in the course which was held virtually for the first time via the Microsoft Teams Commercial Virtual Remote environment.

The CVR environment is a tool tailored for DOD customers to work anywhere in the world during the COVID-19 national emergency. The CVR enables customers to chat, meet with audio/video, develop and share content.

The course introduces new test engineers to 96th Test Wing-specific processes, planning, execution and reporting.

“Our instructor corps recognized we needed to offer a course that actively engages the students,” said Lt. Col. Jeff Newcamp, 96th OG deputy commander.

The instructors created a case study based off of a real test. Students apply what they learned about test processes and procedures back to the case study that runs throughout the course.  

“(The study is) straightforward enough for new test engineers to understand, but interesting enough to keep their attention,” said Newcamp.

The students virtually interacted within small groups to accomplish test procedures to complete the coursework.

“It amazes me that folks who have never met before can get together virtually and come up with pretty good ideas and solutions to the exercises,” said Charles Miller, a 413th Flight Test Squadron Combat Rescue Helicopter Program test engineer.

In addition to 96th OG students, Airmen from outside agencies such as Big Safari, Air Force Research Lab, Air Force Life Cycle Management Center, and Advanced Airlift Tactical Command participated in the course.

“This course allowed me to continue to learn virtually by providing a ‘hands’ on training environment through online, highly focused interactive training projects,” said 2nd Lt. William Helms, an AFRL Munitions Directorate physicist. 

Test engineers require upfront training specific to the 96th TW before they are qualified to accomplish tests. Instructors tried to blend virtual lectures and collaborative exercises to create the best product to meet those requirements.

“We kept the instructor corps very small because we could count on each other to execute the course well amongst ourselves,” said Newcamp. “The class went exceedingly well because it was planned and conducted by a small group of experienced and dedicated folks.”