Pikes Peak Computer Society, Life Member Affinity Group, and Section Work Together To Build Student Simulation Lab
David Bondurant, Pikes Peak Section Chair
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On November 18, 2023, 20 Pikes Peak IEEE Computer Society, Life Member Affinity Group, and Section members toured the National Museum of WWII Aviation in Colorado Springs, CO. The purpose of the tour was to see the Museum exhibits and see the results of a 2-year effort by the Pikes Peak chapters to build a Student Simulation Lab at the Museum using grants from the IEEE Section, Life Member Committee, Life Member Affinity Group, and Computer Society.
On a previous tour of the facility in 2021, we became acquainted with the Museum’s Interactive Exhibits department and its Director, Vern Patterson. The museum operates one of the few working Link 3-axis trainers that train pilots daily during WWII. The Interactive Exhibits department has been operating an internship program with the University of Colorado-Colorado Springs Engineering & Computer Science department, which allows students to do their senior project at the Museum. Over 120 students have participated over the last eight years. We were asked to financially support the museum’s student program by funding a student simulation laboratory.
Our Museum Docent, Ashby, a retired Air Force fighter and test pilot, reviewed the museum programs and development plans. The museum is housed in three Colorado Springs Airport/Peterson Space Force Base hangers. The museum has a very active STEM program, which has served more than 25,000 students since 2012.
The museum has several post-secondary education programs. The Internship program has been in operation for nine years. Other programs would provide an AP program for local schools and an FAA-Certified Airframe and Powerplant School.
Ashby toured us through the WWII Aviation story, which described the state of aircraft during WWI and between the wars. He described US aviator participation in the war in Europe before Pearl Harbor, the attack at Pearl Harbor, and the American response, notably the Doolittle Raid on Japan.
We toured the WestPac aircraft restoration and maintenance facility of the museum. The museum has over 20 flyable WWII aircraft which participate in airshows. Maintenance on a P-38 aircraft.
The Interactive Exhibits department director, Vern Patterson, demonstrated a working Link 3-Axis Trainer to the group.
We observe the current state of development of the Mobile Aircraft Simulator project, which combines a Link Trainer with a 270-degree high-resolution flight simulation.
A docent demonstrated a similar flight simulation built into an actual WWII trainer aircraft to the grandson of one of the IEEE Life Members who flew the trainer.
Finally, we observed the two Student Simulation Lab computer systems being operated by UCCS Student Interns. Pikes Peak funded a high-performance PC with multiple graphics cards driving four high-resolution monitors and a Starlink Satellite Internet connection. In this case, the development of WWII German fighter flight simulation to be used in a 50-caliber machine gun simulation project.
Our tour of the National Museum of WWII Aviation and its Student Simulation Lab concluded with lunch at The Airplane Restaurant nearby. The restaurant is unique in being partially housed in a KC-97 tanker aircraft.
This grant program was an example of the Section, its Computer Society and Life Member chapters, and the Computer Society and Life Member Committee working together to support a local University and its student branch along with the associate Museum STEM program.
Disclaimer: The author is completely responsible for the content of this article. The opinions expressed are their own and do not represent IEEE’s position nor that of the Computer Society nor its Leadership.