Dollars to Pounds: AFIT CE Cost Estimating Across the Pond

  • Published
  • By Brock Taylor
  • Air Force Institute of Technology

The 48th Civil Engineer Squadron at RAF Lakenheath, England hosted the Air Force Institute of Technology’s Civil Engineer School October 9 - 20 for an on-site offering of the Life Cycle Cost Estimating course (WENG 400) funded by the Air Force Civil Engineer Center.

Course director Thomas Glardon led the two-week course and instructor Brock Taylor led on-site staff assistance with the Air Force Parametric Assembly Cost Estimating System. PACES is the required program to create cost estimates for facility sustainment, restoration and modernization projects over one million dollars and all MILCON projects.

The Life Cycle Cost Estimating course is designed for students to comprehend and consistently apply life-cycle cost estimating principles, tools and standards to Air Force programs to more effectively plan, program, budget and execute Air Force infrastructure requirements. The course enables the CE workforce to generate, review, manage and/or finalize the programmed amounts and independent government estimates.

The course focuses on life-cycle cost analysis and the three DoD cost estimating methods. Graduates will become authorized Air Force cost estimators. Students are challenged by having to use advanced mathematics and cross-disciplinary construction to be successful in passing the course. The course is typically delivered in an online, self-paced format. Due to high standards required to produce quality cost estimates for the Air Force, this course tends to have a pass rate around 85%.

For this special on-site offering at RAF Lakenheath, Glardon restructured the entire course into an in-person two-week course. Students from several installations in the United Kingdom were able to attend the on-site offering, eliminating the need for staggered or off hours instruction from the CE School instructors.

As an on-site course, students were able to seek individualized instruction and have in-depth discussions about subjects in the course. The format allowed Glardon to create specific examples to problems or scenarios that directly related to individual students enabling them to better comprehend the complexity of cost estimating. Due to the advantages of on-site course offerings, Glardon was able to increase the pass rate for this course offering to above 93%.

These types of in-person visits allow CE School instructors to see how what they teach is used in the workforce and how to revise instructional methods or content to better serve the CE workforce. These visits also provide targeted, non-attribution assistance to base needs by an expert who has insight into Air Force-wide tools, challenges, and potential solutions.

In addition to the special offering of WENG 400, the CE School was able to assist the 423d CES at RAF Alconbury and the 48th CES and Installation and Mission Support Center at RAF Lakenheath, discussing challenges using the PACES program and cost estimating in the United Kingdom.

PACES uses cost data from the DoD and construction cost estimating software RSMeans to assist in generating Class 3 Parametric Cost Estimates that are required to be included on Form 1391 when programming projects. Issues stemming from regional cost differences, historical preservation, conversion from US Dollars to British Pounds Sterling, and trying to incorporate regional cost data (such as the UK equivalent of RSMeans) into the PACES program among some other challenges were discussed. As a result, Taylor was able to create personalized solutions and directions on how to overcome these issues using PACES.

An additional challenge noted during the site visits is that individual PACES users do not have a community of practice and users forum for post-instruction user support. As each installation typically builds similar projects or have similar project requirements, users are not able to share PACES models, user created assemblies, or user created functional space areas.

This problem is compounded as each PACES user may excel at different aspects of PACES and this disconnect does not allow them to learn from each other. This also creates instances where PACES users may be creating the same models, assemblies, and FSAs for different projects at different installations when they could be sharing them saving time and effort required in programing projects.

Using the technology available, the Civil Engineer School created a PACES Microsoft Teams page which allows PACES users to share files such as models, assemblies, and FSAs as well as chat or message one another to ask questions or discuss problems they may be having. AFIT CE instructor Brock Taylor monitors the PACES Team page enabling him to share updated policy or content directly with PACES users.

The PACES Teams page also includes the PACES user guide, updated cost information, and short how-to instructions for various applications of PACES. The Civil Engineer School will be developing and posting short instructional videos to this PACES Teams Page for common challenges, routine PACES functions, and advanced skills of PACES cost estimating.

If you are a PACES user and have passed WTSS-200 Estimating with PACES and would like to join the PACES Team page please contact Brock Taylor

For more information about the Life Cycle Cost Estimating course, please visit:

AFIT’s CE School can provide on-site options for many courses as well as on-site consultations for various programs by request. For more information, contact or visit

A special thanks to AFCEC for funding this effort and to Nancy Hilliard from AFCEC who joined Glardon and Taylor and acted as their liaison to get them in the doors needed to be successful.