AFIT awards 236 master’s, doctorate STEM degrees

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  • 88th Air Base Wing Public Affairs

WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio -- During the Air Force Institute of Technology’s Graduate School of Engineering and Management graduation ceremony March 25, history was made as this year’s class included Guardians of the U.S. Space Force.

A total of 230 master’s and six doctorate degrees were awarded in the science, technology, engineering and math fields. One graduate earned dual master’s degrees.

Due to current COVID-19 concerns, the commencement ceremony was livestreamed for family and friends.

The graduating class included 172 Air Force officers and three noncommissioned officers, 33 Space Force officers, six Army officers, five Marine Corps officers, 11 Defense Department civilians and three defense contractors. Two international students from Australia also graduated. 

“Your AFIT degree will give you initial credibility with others but also establish some very high expectations of your ability to use what you learn here to help solve some of the tough challenges facing our Air and Space Forces today and in the future,” said Dr. Todd Stewart, AFIT director and chancellor. “I am confident that your AFIT program has prepared you well to make important contributions for our Air and Space Forces.”

Following Stewart’s remarks, Acting Secretary of the Air Force John P. Roth relayed a message in a recorded video.

“Graduates, as you relish in this moment, be proud,” he said. “Benjamin Franklin once said, ‘If a man empties his purse into his head, no one can take it away from him. An investment in knowledge always pays the best interest.’ As a career comptroller, I can tell you, he was right.

“Education certainly pays the best interest, but it is up to you to invest. Going forward, I encourage you to take what you have learned combing over thousands of pages, hundreds of studies, and countless papers and focus on three areas: inspire, inquire and take initiative.”

Lt. Gen. James Hecker, Air University commander and president, also congratulated the graduates.

“You will be known as AFIT graduates now. There is only a small fraction of our Air and Space Force that can say they are AFIT graduates, and that means something,” he said. “Make sure that you always know, people will look at you differently because you are an AFIT graduate. Be the person the commander goes to when they have a hard job to get done, because that is going to be the expectation.

“And guess what? You will deliver because of the faculty and everything you learned here. You are prepared to meet that challenge.”

Gen. John W. “Jay” Raymond, the first chief of Space Operations, was guest speaker for this year’s ceremonies and praised the graduates for their hard work and accomplishment.

Raymond conveyed that the Air Force Institute of Technology has been the means by which the Air Force has enhanced the technological superiority of the nation’s air, space and cyber forces for more than a century. AFIT and its predecessor organizations have delivered world-class education to hundreds of thousands of defense professionals.

“Today, we are operating in an extremely complex security environment, probably the most complex environment since the Cold War,” Raymond said. “There is a lot that can go wrong and there are many challenges that lie ahead. Now, more than ever, we need technically minded joint warfighters who are ready to meet the challenges of our time.

“While I have no doubt that our joint coalition forces are the envy of the world, our advantage, our superiority is diminishing. Parity undermines global stability. We must rapidly evolve and stay ahead of that growing threat. The Department of Defense is primed for rapid innovation and transformation, and it is you who will inspire and lead that change. There is no moment better than now, and no one better than you to lead that effort.”

Raymond urged the graduates to employ what they had learned at AFIT. 

“Don’t be afraid to fail, don’t be afraid to fall short,” the general said. “Trust yourself and trust what you learned. You are all ready and all of you are good enough to do great things in defense of our freedom.”

AFIT’s Graduate School of Engineering and Management is a research-based institution offering programs leading to Master of Science and Doctorate of Philosophy degrees in engineering, applied science and selected areas of management. The school’s mission is to provide high-quality, graduate-education programs and engage in research activities that enable the Department of the Air and Space Force to maintain its scientific and technological dominance. 

At an awards ceremony earlier in the day, the following students were recognized for their exemplary performance:

  • Capt. James Crumpacker of the Operational Sciences Department received the Chancellor’s Award for producing the most exceptional individual master’s thesis. 
  • First Lt. Hanna Gjermo-Chomitz from the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department received the Mervin E. Gross Award for her exceptional academic achievement and high qualities of character, initiative and leadership. The award is named in honor of Brig. Gen. Mervin E. Gross, the institute’s first commandant.
  • Capt. Evan Fortney of the Systems Engineering and Management Department received the Louis F. Polk Award. The winner of this award exhibits the highest standards of academic and professional accomplishment — and through research — made a significant contribution toward strengthening the nation’s industrial defense base.
  • Capt. Justin Tullos from the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department received the Edwin E. Aldrin Sr. Award, presented for displaying the most exceptional leadership characteristics while in the graduate program. The award is sponsored by the Air Force Association’s Wright Memorial Chapter and named in honor of Lt. Edwin E. Aldrin Sr., a member of the institute’s first graduating class in 1920, who upon graduation, became AFIT’s first vice commandant.
  • Master Sgt. Arvin Bada of the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department received the Secretary James G. Roche Award for demonstrating exceptional academic achievement through a combination of grade-point average and outstanding research, as well as high qualities of character, initiative, leadership and service. The award is named after former Air Force Secretary James G. Roche, whose leadership in 2002 led to the first class of noncommissioned officers in the Graduate School of Engineering and Management.

The following students met all degree requirements and were approved for the designated degree (in bold):


Doctorate of Philosophy

Aeronautical Engineering

Capt. Ruben Adorno-Rodriguez

Maj. Michael Wilkinson


Applied Physics

Lt. Col. James Bowers

Capt. Carlos Diaz


Electrical Engineering

Dr. Isaac Weintraub


Optical Sciences and Engineering

Dr. Jonathan Slagle


Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics


Master of Science in Aeronautical Engineering

1st Lt. Alexander J. Brown

2nd Lt. Anthony Cabri

Capt. Joshua Embrador

Capt. Christopher Fassio

Capt. Evan Glowiak

Capt. Paul Grossi

2nd Lt. Andrej Lysak*

2nd Lt. Caleigh Nelson

Capt. Jacob Olsen

Capt. Torin Quick

Capt. Patrick Silberberg (Marine Corps)

Capt. Luke Steinberg

Capt. Nathan Tedder

Capt. Jake Willstatter


Master of Science in Astronautical Engineering

1st Lt. Cecily Agu

Capt. Layne Barrett

Nathan Boone

2nd Lt. Nathaniel Enders*

Taylor Foy

Capt. Connor Gurley

Jonathan Olsten

2nd Lt. Devin Saunders

Capt. Daniel Scala


Master of Science in Materials Science

2nd Lt. Benjamin Lam

Capt. Richard Reinink


Master of Science in Space Systems

Capt. Joseph Bacon

Capt. Steven Bednarski

Capt. Ranell Cavitt

Capt. Jessica Horn*

Capt. Carl Poole

Maj. Michael Sherman

Maj. Matthew Whitaker


Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering

Master of Science in Computer Engineering

Capt. Kyle Hintze

1st Lt. Robert Mellish

2nd Lt. Ryan Raettig*

2nd Lt. Dillon Tryhorn


Master of Science in Computer Science

1st Lt. Mark N. Adams

1st Lt. Ricky D. Anderson

2nd Lt. Claire Badger

John Beighle

2nd Lt. Vincent Bownes

2nd Lt. Brian Curran

2nd Lt. Mark Demore

Capt. Matthew Eilertson

2nd Lt. James Elkins

2nd Lt. Brennen Garland

2nd Lt. Joshua Larson

Capt. Ryan Nartea

Tech. Sgt. Daniel Oke

Capt. Connor Pipan

Capt. Graeme Roberts

Capt. Luis Sepulveda

Capt. Joshua H. White

2nd Lt. Robert Willburn

2nd Lt. Chad A. Willis


Master of Science in Cyber Operations

Master Sgt. Arvin Bada*

2nd Lt. Ryan Baity

Capt. Khaled Basrawi

Capt. Brenna Cole*

Capt. Justin M. Durham

Capt. John Hannah*

Capt. Stephanie Long

Capt. Enjoli Morales


Master of Science in Electrical Engineering

1st Lt. Destinee Battle

Kevin Chandler

Capt. Henry Cho

Capt. Daniel J. Clarke*

1st Lt. Benjamin W. Davis

Capt. William Deberry

1st Lt. Israel Dunk (Australia)

Capt. Jordan Eldridge

2nd Lt. Kyle Emery

Capt. Sean Feschak

Capt. Steven Frank

1st Lt. Noah Friz

1st Lt. Hanna Gjermo-Chomitz*

Capt. Grant Graupmann

1st Lt. Eulalie Grodner

1st Lt. Zackary Hewitt

Capt. Tyler Hussey

Capt. Ethan Jacquin

2nd Lt. Natalie Ketner

1st Lt. Justin S. Lee

1st Lt. Colton Mott

Maj. Adam D. Murphy

1st Lt. Austin Nathaniel

2nd Lt. Connor Paw

Capt. Christian Potts

1st Lt. Mitchell Rudy

1st Lt. John Stader

Capt. Sureshan Suntharalingam (Australia)

Capt. Justin Tullos

Capt. Ryan P. Wilkerson

Capt. Brian M. Wright

Capt. Rick Yuan

Capt. Aubrey Olson

Capt. Kaitlin Poole


Department of Engineering Physics

Master of Science in Applied Physics

Capt. Tyler Brewer

Capt. Derek Buckley

1st Lt. Rodney Carmona

Capt. Blake Galloway

Capt. Seth Garland*

Capt. Simeon Hanks

Capt. Alexander Holstead

Matthew Husk

1st Lt. Brian Kay

1st Lt. John Nguyen

1st Lt. Michael Rynders

2nd Lt. Adrian Scheppe

1st Lt. Anne Werkley


Master of Science in Atmospheric Sciences

Capt. Stewart Almeida

Capt. Britta Gjermo-Morrison

1st Lt. Seth Powers

Capt. Andrew Siebels


Master of Science in Materials Science

Maj. Joshua Frey (Army) (dual degree)


Master of Science in Nuclear Engineering

1st Lt. Stephen Baxter

2nd Lt. Marcus Brinker

Capt. Sean Fitzpatrick (Army)

Maj. Joshua Frey (Army) (dual degree)

Maj. Aaron Heffelfinger (Army)

1st Lt. Zachary LaMere*

Capt. Jason Seik

Capt. James Stofel*


Master of Science in Optical Sciences and Engineering

Timothy True


Department of Mathematics and Statistics

Master of Science in Applied Mathematics

2nd Lt. Jeremiah Lane*

Capt. Aron Wing


Department of Operational Sciences

Master of Science in Logistics

Maj. Joshua D. Meyer

Maj. Francis Rupert

Capt. Phillip Wuebold


Master of Science in Logistics & Supply Chain Management

Capt. Scott Carr

Capt. Meaghan Crandell

Capt. Ioan Gaitan

Capt. Hunter Kalin

Capt. David Portee

Capt. John Ritschard*

Capt. David W. Wallace


Master of Science in Operations Research

Capt. Justin L. Anderson

Capt. Jessica Astudillo

Capt. Jeremiah Bill

Capt. Zachary Butcher

Capt. Matthew Cornman

Capt. James Crumpacker*

1st Lt. Nathaniel Dennie

Capt. Stephen Donnel

1st Lt. Alex R. Gaines

Maj. John Goodwill (Army)

2nd Lt. Emily Graves

Julia Haines

Capt. Donald Hale

Capt. Kimberly Holland

Capt. Benjamin Huffman

Lt. Col. Joseph Liles*

2nd Lt. Michelle McGee

2nd Lt. Nicholas Pollack

2nd Lt. Matthew Scherer

Maj. Camero Song (Army)

2nd Lt. Emmie Swize

Capt. Erick Tello

Capt. Julius Walker

Capt. Andrew S. Wilson (Army)

Capt. William F. Wilson

Capt. Kylie Wooten


Department of Systems Engineering and Management

Master of Engineering in Applied Systems Engineering

Capt. Raza Alyas

Capt. Alex Arlint

Capt. Isaiah Bragg

Capt. Robert Cline

Michael Cutter

Capt. John Jozsa

Capt. Robert D. Rodgers

Capt. Tony Zilli


Master of Science in Cost Analysis

1st Lt. Evan Amato

1st Lt. Christopher Bissing

Capt. Christian Erneston

1st Lt. Karina Fernando

1st Lt. James Goljan*

1st Lt. Alexander Pollack

Capt. Joshua Reese

1st Lt. Colin Sandor

1st Lt. Cameron Scott

1st Lt. Erwin Spencer

Capt. Thinh Tran

1st Lt. Trevor Violette


Master of Science in Engineering Management

2nd Lt. Yaquarri Adams

1st Lt. Christopher Amaddio

Capt. Alexander Baldwin

Capt. Sarah L. Brown

Capt. Joseph Chapman

1st Lt. Kelsie Crouch

1st Lt. Stephen Cunningham*

Capt. Devin Depalmer

Capt. Tyler Ferry

Capt. Evan Fortney

Capt. Kenneth Neal

Capt. Mathew Nicholson

Capt. Jared Pilcher

Capt. John Pollock

Capt. Daniel Ress

Capt. Kyle Rodriguez

2nd Lt. Tyler Stout

1st Lt. Scott Weiss*

Capt. Louis Zib

Capt. Carlos Esguerra

Kurt Lamm

Master Sgt. Vincent Olshove

Capt. Kaitlyn Ryan*

Capt. William Sousa

1st Lt. Adam Teston


Master of Science in Environmental Engineering & Science

Maj. Daniel Schurman (Marine Corps)

Capt. Troy Searcy* (Marine Corps)

Capt. Jacob Spaulding (Marine Corps)

Maj. Jeffry P. Hart (Marine Corps)

Megan Shade


Master of Science in Systems Engineering

2nd Lt. Bretton Bethel

Capt. Kyla Brown

Capt. Foster Davis

2nd Lt. Eugene Denezza

2nd Lt. Mikaela Dimaapi

Capt. Benjamin Donohoo

Capt. Keith Dreyer

Capt. David Feibus

Capt. Ethan Gaston

Capt. Tommy Hernandez

Capt. Daniel Herreraramirez

Mark Kassan

Capt. Sean R. Kelly

Capt. Jeffery King

Capt. Dalton Miller

Capt. Justin R. Miller

2nd Lt. Jordan Peterson*

Capt. Clayton Wilson


*Distinguished graduate