Air Camp wish: Its own $23 million facility

Dakota Wagner (left) and Savannah Smith (center) learn what it’s like to be a firefighter during their second day of Air Camp at Wright-Patterson Air Force in July 2018. (U.S. Air Force photo/Isabel Velez)
Dakota Wagner (left) and Savannah Smith (center) learn what it’s like to be a firefighter during their second day of Air Camp at Wright-Patterson Air Force in July 2018. (U.S. Air Force photo/Isabel Velez)

The University of Dayton is proposing a $6 million effort to use virtual and augmented reality to train Air Force maintenance workers while Air Camp has a $23 million facility on its wish list.

These proposals were put forward among dozens in the annual call by the Dayton Development Coalition’s Priority Development & Advocacy Committee (also known as PDAC) for ideas to improve the Dayton region.

In its PDAC application, Air Camp Inc. envisions a new facility with an enhanced use lease on more than seven acres of Wright-Patterson Air Force Base land, with infrastructure improvements valued at $5 million, along with Air Force funding for fit-out and equipment.

“Project delivers a future STEM-ready workforce, support of WPAFB, and national GDP growth in aerospace related jobs/skills,” Air Camp said.

Air Camp brings children from across the nation to explore careers and aerospace and aviation.

“In 2019, we saw student participants travel here for camps from 29 states, teachers from 28 states,” said retired Air Force Lt. Gen. Richard V. Reynolds, co-founder, secretary and vice chairman of Air Camp. “We calculated our overall impact at (approximately) 33,000 students.”

The PDAC list of 76 proposals allows the coalition to approach state and federal government with a unified voice in funding requests and lobbying work. Ideas will go to the Dayton area’s congressional delegation this year.

The PDAC process does not award money itself. It prioritizes requests for funds from other sources.

Another proposal: UD seeks to create a “virtual, augmented, and mixed (VAM) reality” method of training Air Force personnel on “up-to-date on technologies.”

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Such training has been used in the private sector for years. The Air Force Research Lab, headquartered at Wright-Patterson, has spearheaded an inquiry into the effort, asking for information on how to move from printed instructions to high-tech visualizations of a training task.

The U.S. Air Force Scientific Advisory Board study on 21st Century Training and Education Technologies recommends the development of VAM training, UD said in its PDAC application. “This program will develop training applications to capture knowledge and quickly raise the performance of novice users to near expert levels, train on VAM equipment and carry the training over to the real world,” the university said.

Another UD proposal, the “National Aerospace Electric Power Innovation Center” will “enable GE to meet its needs for skilled labor and rapidly creating advanced prototypes, concept models and assembly aids,” the university said.

An investment will “catalyze the creation of the facility in Ohio rather than another state,” said UD’s application. “Other Ohio manufacturers can leverage the UD-run facility. The partnership between GE, the University of Dayton, Sinclair Community College, and Wright-Patterson ... will bring together experts to keep the Miami Valley at the forefront of electric power advances.”

UD’s campus is home to GE Aviation’s Electrical Power Integrated Systems Center (EPISCENTER), a 138,000-square-foot facility, which includes a four-story 50,000-square-foot office building connected to an 88,000-square-foot electrical power laboratory.

The GE Episcenter is located on River Park Drive on University of Dayton land that stretches from the UD Campus to the Great Miami River.   TY GREENLEES / STAFF
The GE Episcenter is located on River Park Drive on University of Dayton land that stretches from the UD Campus to the Great Miami River. TY GREENLEES / STAFF

The final PDAC list includes some familiar ideas. Both Beavercreek and Kettering seek to take advantage of the Miami Valley Research Park’s location, Kettering to draw defense-oriented businesses and Beavercreek to install sanitary sewer and roadway improvements to the 53-acre business park north of Research Boulevard and west of I-675.

“This property is ideally situated for the recruitment of companies in the research and technology fields, but currently lacks the infrastructure needed for development,” the city of Beavercreek said in its PDAC proposal.

“I know from past experiences how important it is for the Dayton region to speak with one voice when presenting our list of community projects to public officials and potential funders,” said Debbie Feldman, PDAC chair and president and chief executive of Dayton Children’s Hospital. “The Dayton region continues to serve as a model for offering public review and support for these projects which really can make a difference in improving our region.”

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