How to Face the Winter‐Over Challenge in Terms of Team Building and Training? The Approach of Alfred Wegener Institute

Eberhard.Kohlberg [ at ]


For 36 years, the German national Antarctic programme of the Alfred Wegener Institute (AWI) has had experience with predeployment training for winter‐over personnel. The wintering teams started in the 1980s with five people, but soon, after two years, the group was extended to nine persons. The nine person team is still the norm today. The team includes two geophysicists, one meteorologist, one atmospheric chemist, one medical doctor, one IT engineer, two other engineers, and one cook. The first two teams went through a very simple structured training, only for a short period and mostly dealing with their future tasks. There was no real idea of team building prior to the deployment. The only training that focussed on team building and confidencebuilding measures was the mountain course starting in 1984 and still practised to the present day. It is also one of our most safetyrelated courses. A first change in the training programme was made at the end of the 1990s. We developed a more detailed, structured, and specialised training concept, which includes courses for the entire team as well as separate ones for the different specialist areas, concerning science, technics, and medicine. Moreover, we change the programme, as some of the courses have been ineffective and we have added other more appropriate ones. The complete predeployment period in Bremerhaven takes three to five months,from the beginning of August till mid‐November, and focusses equally on team‐building measures and training on the job. We do not have psychological tests for evaluation; our approach is to derive from the practical side to see how the team’s interactions and working together develop. At the beginning of this period everyone gets a detailed schedule listing all information on the training programme. This schedule is subdivided into courses for the entire team and special training onthe‐ job for engineers, scientists, and the medical doctor. The training system should also give the winter‐over personnel the feeling of safety, which is also to be considered a main concern.

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Kohlberg, E. , Wesche, C. , Nixdorf, U. and Mengedoht, D. (2017): How to Face the Winter‐Over Challenge in Terms of Team Building and Training? The Approach of Alfred Wegener Institute , Proceedings of the COMNAP Symposium 2016 Winter-Over Challenges, pp. 67-71 .

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