Strategic Ohio Council for Higher Education visits Wright-Patterson Air Force Base

  • Published
  • By Zion Dillahunt
  • 88th Air Base Wing Public Affairs

WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio – The Strategic Ohio Council for Higher Education guided 28 students to Wright-Patterson Air Force Base on June 13, aiming to educate students about the 128 mission partners at WPAFB and highlight potential career opportunities once they complete their academic journeys. 

SOCHE is an alliance of academic organizations providing higher education in their communities. Each member is an advocate of innovation, opportunity, and success. They strive to promote scholastic achievement through the development of new technologies and quality education. 

Cassie Barlow currently serves as the SOCHE president and connected the students to employees at Wright-Patt. Barlow is a retired Air Force colonel and previously held the position of 88th Air Base Wing and installation commander.  

“We work hard to expose our students to various in-demand career opportunities and the base has a plethora of those,” Barlow said. “We thought coming here would be a great chance for our students to see these opportunities firsthand.” 

The group started the day at the 445th Airlift Wing on board a static C-17 Globemaster III, the most versatile cargo aircraft in the Air Force. The 445 AW is under the command of Air Force Reserve Command and provides combat ready airmen and rapid global response. 

The group explored the aircraft, spoke with the flight crew about their experiences and learned that the aircraft excels in swiftly transporting troops and various cargo types to main operating bases or directly to forward bases within deployment areas, enabling rapid strategic delivery. 

Next stop was the Air Force Research Laboratorys 711th Human Performance Wing, where research and aerospace medicine combine to elevate the performance and preparedness of operational Airmen. 

Students explored and received an education from researchers on the lab’s centrifuge device, which is the only human rated centrifuge owned by the Department of Defense and is used for aircrew-acceleration training, research, and testing missions.  

The group then visited the hypobaric chambers, also known as research altitude chambers, which simulates the low-pressure conditions experienced at high altitudes. These chambers enable researchers to study the effects of low pressure and oxygen deprivation on the human body and to test equipment and procedures designed to maintain adequate oxygen levels and prevent altitude-related health issues. 

The group concluded the day with a National Air and Space Intelligence Center mission brief and a Civilian Personnel Office presentation, where they learned about future employment opportunities. 

The tour proved to be beneficial for several students on the tour.  

"Personally, this experience has been insightful. Having the opportunity to witness firsthand the available pathways, particularly those that can make a positive impact on my country and its people,” said Joseph Marano, Wright State University student. “Exploring these potential avenues gives me a profound understanding of the opportunities I have before me." 

Elizabeth Baxley a student at the University of Pittsburgh offered her thoughts. 

“This tour has been incredibly impactful and has given me a good outlook moving forward,” she said. “What made today particularly memorable was the people and personnel we met that were so open to all of our questions and communicative about everything.”  

In conclusion, the day served as a bridge between academic pursuits and practical career opportunities, particularly within the dynamic environment of WPAFB.