Network course keeps Air Force connected

Network course keeps Air Force connected


Scott Air Force Base, Ill., was one of the first military installations in the country to start training from a Web-based, educational curriculum designed to teach personnel to build and maintain computer networks.

The base signed up for the program, offered by Cisco Systems Inc. of San Jose, Calif., and started Scott Academy last October to increase the computer skill levels among communications and information professionals, ranging from senior airmen to master sergeants. The base was one of 21 Air Force bases around the world to enroll students in network training centers, where hands-on courses are taught to about 275 students.

The service grows more electronically linked daily and must enhance the skills of staff workers so they can keep the networks operable, Master Sgt. Ted Crincoli said.

Information technology trainer John Marshall offers personal instruction to a Network Academy student.

'Our goal is to help provide our people with the must-have skills necessary to operate our networks,' he said. 'This system offers the Air Force standardized commercial training on the equipment used by our networking professionals.'
The hands-on lab exercises are taught using Cisco routers and switches.

'Basically, the Cisco Academy curriculum helped to meet the training needs of the Air Force,' Crincoli said.

Something for everyone

The Cisco Networking Academy Program is one of many courses offered through the Network Training Center, which Scott Air Force Base is fielding. A few of the other courses include Microsoft Windows NT and Exchange, and workgroup management skills. Each course runs for one week.

There are nearly 6,000 networking academies in all 50 states, more than 100 countries and in nine languages, said Carroll McGillin, national initiatives manager for Cisco's worldwide education department. The company started the program three years ago to wire high schools and teach students how to build routers and operate computer networks.

After the course, students are prepared for industry standard certifications.

The academy has since grown to include offerings in some juvenile detention centers, universities, military bases and community groups.

At Scott Air Force Base, senior personnel learn the skills, then they are expected to serve as instructors after they receive certification. The only cost is for the equipment and the contract instructors, which averages about $175,000 per base each year, Crincoli said.

As the military has become increasingly digital, a major challenge for Air Force leaders has been teaching officers new skills, McGillin said. 'This program is giving them flexibility to quickly retrain.'

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