402nd EMXG employees benefit from ITEP course Published Jan. 30, 2009 By Wayne Crenshaw 78 ABW/PA ROBINS AFB, Ga. -- Efforts to improve education levels in the 402nd Electronics Maintenance Group culminated Jan. 24 with the first graduating class of the Institute for Innovative Technologies in Educational Programs. In a ceremony held at the Museum of Aviation, 32 employees in the 402nd EMXG received associate's degrees through the program. Ernest Ford, the training manager for the 402nd EMXG, said the program began about a year and a half ago to increase the education level in the group. "We think this is going to be a big program," he said. "Hopefully we can educate not just the 402nd, but this will be a program the whole base can take advantage of." The primary benefits of the program, he said, are that classes are done online and the school accepts prior credits from technical schools as college credits. There is an option for on-site classes if students desire. Also, he noted, the program is not just about college-level classes. Some employees have taken reading and writing classes through ITEP, which is a school in Columbus. A total of 80 employees participated in the program. Col. Jerry Whitley, commander of the 402nd EMXG, said it's an important program not only for the group, but for the entire base. "It has generated energy for our future as our folks broaden their educational horizon," he said. "It creates a broader perspective for what you can do. For me, it's energy in the organization." Brig. Gen. Mark Atkinson, commander of the 402nd Maintenance Wing, attended the graduation ceremony. "This first graduation ceremony cements another great partnership between the community and the Air Logistics Center," he said. "I'm proud of the graduates for all their hard work, and I'm proud of their managers for supporting them every step of the way. These types of programs help us develop and sustain a competent and capable workforce for Robins Air Force Base." Also attending the ceremony was Donna Frazier, the deputy director of the 402 EMXG. Mr. Ford, who was also one of the graduates, said many in the group are already making plans to pursue a bachelor's degree. Although all of the graduates were civilians employed in the 402nd EMXG, he said the program is open to all military and civilian personnel throughout the base. Those interested can contact their training manager or they can call Mr. Ford. Students pay 25 percent of the tuition, while the base pays the remainder. He said the courses for the associate's degree included English, humanities, Spanish, physiology, psychology and others. "I thought it was a great course," he said.