By Terri Bernhardt

electronic classroomsAutomated Electronic Classrooms were launched almost four years ago when Naval Service Training Command (NSTC) began to provide funding to support the development of naval science electronic classrooms at NROTC colleges and universities across the nation. The software – which creates experiential opportunities for students to focus on navigation, ship handling, engineering, weapons systems, and naval operations – is already being used at NROTC units across the nation, according to Captain David Grimland, Naval Air Warfare Training Systems Division, (NAWCTSD). Since June 2007, fifty-nine Naval ROTC units across the county have trained via AEC, which facilitates real-time computer enhanced simulation and modeling.

The AEC classrooms allow NROTC midshipmen to train with the same tools they will be using when they arrive in the fleet. They will be prepared to immediately function in the modern shipboard environment once they receive their commissions as Navy ensigns. These electronic classrooms are key to meeting that goal. “Navy ships are now paperless navigations,” stated CAPT Grimland. “In the past, training was done on paper charts for students to learn direction, speed estimations, arrival times and distance from one port to another. Ships are now electronically based and our students are better off training this way. These classrooms, with electronic white boards and interactive podiums, represent the incorporation of technology to enhance the learning experience of future Navy and Marine Corps officers.”

In 2007 NTSC commissioned NAWCTSD to outfit the classrooms at each school with electronic capabilities. These site surveys at selected schools send advance teams to look at space, make sure there is adequate power, the proper lighting conditions and if the equipment and furniture will fit. Every aspect is an essential key part of the students’ learning environment. The advance team makes the proper repairs to each classroom from painting, laying carpet, upgrading electrical capabilities, etc. When the classroom is ready, it hosts from 12-24 work stations. Each configured work area is a tall desk you can stand or sit (on stool) with two monitors at each station. The software, specifically designed and developed by NAWCTSD for AEC, leverages time and cost saving efficiencies by providing a help desk.

In a short amount of time, AEC word has reached many about the state-of-the-art training and cost effective program. Schools that don’t have it are requesting it. Of the fifty-nine selected NROTC schools, a sampling that have benefited include: Jacksonville University, Auburn University, Savannah University, University of San Diego, and Vanderbilt. There are currently a minimum of five new programs scheduled to benefit in FY 11. From start to finish it takes two semesters of a four year degree. NAWCTSD plans on staying involved in the program.

Pictured: The Automated Electronic Classroom (AEC) shown above is representative of those planned for installation in various submarine facilities in CONUS and Hawaii.

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