A woman who spent four years at 19 Wing Comox will become the first non-commissioned officer in the Canadian Forces to take the Aerospace Systems Course.
Master Warrant Officer Miina Piir recently moved from Courtenay to Winnipeg to begin training.
The Aerospace Systems Course (ASC) is conducted at the Canadian Forces School of Aerospace Studies in Winnipeg and aims to provide suitable Air Force candidates with advanced education and training, enabling them to fill appointments associated with the definition of operational requirements, acquisition and analysis, and evaluation of aerospace systems, according to Canada’s Air Force.
“I look forward to the course,” Piir said by telephone from Winnipeg. “It is in some ways a daunting task to be the first to do this, but at the same time, I’m looking forward to it and to the challenge. I’m looking forward to seeing how I can use the course in the future.
“I’m proud of our military. People don’t realize it, but our military puts a lot of effort into making sure we’re trained well. This is one of the cases where the military ensures that it’s making sure our people have the best tools.”
The ASC is run once a year, and it was originally designed as a course for officers at the rank of captain, explained Piir.
“The course itself has changed as technology has changed, and this is the first year they opened it up to non-commissioned members of the Air Force,” she said. “I’m in a sense the guinea pig for the course.”
Piir’s background is in telecommunications.
“As the first person to go in, I’m the first aerospace telecommunications information systems technician,” she said. “My background is we support all the telecommunications for the Air Force — telephones, computers and up to radar systems.
“In this day and age, we’re a very diverse trade. With my background from this training I’m taking, when I go to my next position, I will be more focused on the telecommunications support required for the Air Force.”
Every year, a message is sent out asking for nominations to the ASC course, and while Piir didn’t personally put her file in, someone nominated her, and her file and a number of other files were sent in.
Piir received a phone call from 2 Canadian Air Division, and Chief Warrant Officer Bill Dalke asked if she would be interested. She thought the course sounded interesting, so she said yes.
“One of the reasons I got on the course is because I’ve done post-secondary education, and I have a university degree,” she said. “When I had this call, I wondered what trouble did I get into. I looked at some of the names on the list and recognized a couple of chiefs who had been in my trade before and realized if I said no, I won’t be given this opportunity again.”
The course, which starts this week, is almost a year long.
Once she has completed the ASC course, Piir will remain in Winnipeg and work at the Air Force headquarters.
“As the first person, what I’m looking forward to is how I’m going to be able to use this course and the content in my future position,” she said. “It’ll be interesting because we’re not just looking at technology and equipment; we’re also looking at personnel management.
“What I’d like to get out of this is … how to better utilize our individuals to support the Air Force and make sure we get people trained right for any equipment we procure. When you buy something, you have to look at how to support it through its life … you have to manage things from start to finish. It’ll be interesting to see how I can use that after this course.”
Piir, who is originally from Vancouver, joined the Canadian Forces in 1983, inspired by an uncle who was in the First and Second world wars.
“With all his stories of being in the military, I got this inclination that it was something that would interest me,” she said. “I wanted to do something different. I’ve enjoyed my career and the places I’ve been and the challenges I’ve had.”