AEMP University Presents First-Ever IGNITE Program in Europe
Wednesday, July 18, 2018
Posted by: AEMP
Sometimes good things come in unexpected ways. In 2017, MSgt. David Fernandez of the US Air Force in Spangdahlem, Germany was selected as a finalist for AEMP’s Technician of the Year award. The winner would be announced at AEMP’s 2017 Annual Meeting and Asset Management Conference in Las Vegas, NV. As a finalist, David agreed to participate in the award ceremony, and three of his superiors, CIV Ronald Erwin, CMSgt Kenneth Malley, and SMSgt Andrew Slater accompanied him to Las Vegas to attend the AEMP conference.
At that time, Chief Slater was assigned as the Director of the AFFOR Transportation Training Center (Europe). He was impressed with the education offered by AEMP, and asked specifically about offering AEMP’s IGNITE program and CEM certification for Air Force fleet managers stationed throughout Europe. “We wanted to get about 15-20 people through the class at once by bringing them all to the training center in Spangdahlem.” AEMP’s IGNITE instructor Jim Schug, CEM, a US Army veteran, agreed to help, although timing with his busy schedule would be key.
In October 2017, Chief Slater was reassigned to a position as Flight Chief for Vehicle Management and SMSgt Timothy Trace took his place at the training center. Working out all the details proved challenging, as a special funding request had to be filed and classroom logistics had to be communicated over eight time zones. Finally in late February 2018, funding was approved and the program was scheduled for June 5-8, 2018. By March, 16 USAF fleet managers stationed throughout Europe had signed up to attend and began studying the CEFM manual.
Sgt. Trace arranged for a certified proctor from the University of Maryland’s Spangdahlem Education Center to proctor the CEM exam for all the participants. This final hurdle required scheduling the exams in both the morning and the afternoon after the IGNITE learning lab concluded, as the testing center was too small to accommodate the entire group at once.
With everything finally all set, Jim Schug traveled to Germany and the Spangdahlem IGNITE learning lab began on June 5. One participant in the class commented on the difficulty of the material, saying, “I’m not sure I’ll be passing the test! I read the book, but this is some in-depth stuff! The instructor is awesome!” Jim Schug described the class as lively and engaged, even to the point that one participant, MSgt Gavin Trzepacz, stood up to explain the concept of net-present value to the rest of the class. “They were a fun group to work with, and I thought they would do well, but I know the test is really tough.”
“Professional certification exams are designed to test the limits of a person’s knowledge and skill in their field, which makes them more challenging than most exams offered at the conclusion of a school course or typical training program,” explains Sharon Young, AEMP’s Certifications Director. “The CEM exam is meant to prove that the candidate has an elite level of skill as an equipment manager. There are a lot of CEMs out there who have had to retake in order to pass.”
The CEM exam proved to be a major challenge for the candidates in Spangdahlem. Of the 12 candidates who tested on June 8, four passed, and four others scored within three percentage points of the passing score. “They were so close, we’re definitely going to get them scheduled to retake!” says Young. MSgt. James Miller, Section Chief of MHE Maintenance at the Ramstein airbase who joined the class with only a few days to study said, “I found the IGNITE course very insightful and I am definitely going to take the test again.” MSgt. Israel Rivera, one of the four who passed the exam agreed. “Thank you so much for granting me the opportunity. This is a great personal milestone for me.”
SMSgt Trace and other attendees commented upon the many differences between military fleet management and civilian fleet management. “We typically don’t have the same focus on the financial management side, nor do we get input into the specifications of our equipment or warranties and performance guarantees. That was unfamiliar territory to us. This is the first time our fleet managers have been exposed to a lot of those concepts that civilian fleet managers would obviously have to know. We’re putting in our evaluation of IGNITE to our superiors as something we want to repeat every two or three years because as new personnel are assigned here they would benefit from this education.”