From squire to knight

Class 21-A of Knight’s University hold their certificates at Ramstein Air Base, May 10. There was a total of five Airman who graduated the course.

The first class of Knight’s University graduated on base, May 10.

Knight’s University is a professional development course designed to teach Airmen communication and leadership skills.

“It was homegrown and it is the primary initiative to develop our folks internally,” said Chief Master Sgt. Clifford Thebodeau, 86th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron superintendent.

The graduating class, 21-A, began April 4.

U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Jeffrey Westerman, 86th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron commander, congratulates Knight’s University class 21-A at Ramstein Air Base, May 10. Knight’s University is a career development program tailored to Airmen in the maintenance field.

The classes consisted of lessons that were three hours long, once a week, over the span of five weeks.

Leadership designed Knight’s University with Airmen’s busy schedule in mind.

“A lot of these guys are always at the grind and doing the job and it’s hard for them to get away to take part in professional developments during the day,” said Master Sgt. Ashley Haldeman, 86th AMXS specialist section chief. “So the idea was to give them something that’s made for us, by us, to help each other grow.”

The course began with teaching the Airmen administrative duties that they will encounter as they approach the ranks of a noncommissioned officer, then it moved on to teaching them leadership philosophy and expectations.

Part of being a leader is also knowing how to accomplish certain tasks on the computer, which Knight’s University instructors integrated into the course curriculum.

“It makes a more efficient Airman,” said Thebodeau. “It gives them valuable time back to the flight line and fixing aircraft. They don’t need to be in the building trying to figure out administrative work, so we can make that easier by teaching them how to properly do that.”

At the course’s end, Thebodeau spoke with the graduating Airmen about his personal philosophy on what leadership is and how they can develop it in themselves.

The first class of graduates left with a greater wealth of knowledge passed on to them by their experienced leadership.

“For me, learning about empowerment and delegation, I’ll be able to work on the flight line more efficiently with my team of Airmen out there,” said graduate Senior Airman Trevor Gillet, 86th AMXS assistant flying crew chief.

Thebodeau hopes to expand the program beyond maintainers.

“I think over time, as it evolves, it’s going to be further reaching than what we imagined initially,” said Thebodeau.

The next class begins May 24, and will integrate new lessons to enhance communication skills.