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Cable Dawg Instructors build confined space simulator

  • Published
  • By Julie Svoboda
  • 82nd Training Wing Public Affairs

Tech Training Transformation continues at the 82nd Training Wing as instructors from the 364th Training Squadron’s Cable and Antennae School built and implemented a confined space simulator in January 2024, here.

The 77-academic day apprentice course has four instructional blocks that cover working in confined spaces. Previously, the training was conducted through lectures followed by hands-on experience in an outdoor maintenance hole. The new simulator bridges the classroom and confined space environments in a way that increases training effectiveness by embracing a “see it, practice it, do it” philosophy.

According to Tech. Sgt. John Earl, Cable and Antenna Instructor, the simulator is a powerful teaching tool that appeals to students with a broad range of learning styles as instructors demonstrate the concepts introduced in lectures in a group setting that is impossible in a real maintenance hole, which can only accommodate a few people at a time.

“The duct system gives them an example of what it looks like before they go into the confined space, which is great because they have a lot of questions,” he said. “They can't really visualize it. And it's hard to draw it up on the board and describe it. If we come in here, I can show them and say, ‘This is what a rack looks like. This is what the machine bolts look like, how it's going to be set up. These are the dimensions.’  This cuts down on the lecture time because it gives them a physical example. We have students with different learning styles. Some people are visual learners, some people are hands-on. So, this helps reach those learners.”

Students are encouraged to use the simulator to practice on their own, which provides the added benefit of learning to collaborate while building muscle memory for the job before they enter a confined space. This, according to Earl, improves the learning environment by decreasing the stress that can develop when a student is trying a new task in an unfamiliar environment.

The simulator was designed by Instructor Supervisor Joshua Rakes, who saw a similar mockup on a different base and decided to modify it to meet the training environment at Sheppard AFB. The confined space simulator is the first of many training advancements the instruction team hope to implement.

“We are also planning a tower lab, a fiber optics lab and virtual reality elements for the course,” he said. “We want a combination of hands-on and virtual learning to augment the lecture portion of the class, which is very important. All combined, this is student-centered learning that develops the Mission Ready Airmen we need.”