Eight Air Force Institute of Technology faculty, students and alumni earned 2021 Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Awards.
“I congratulate all our award winners, who, once again demonstrate the technical landscape of AFIT in meeting the national-defense needs of our nation,” said Dr. Adedeji Badiru, dean, Graduate School of Engineering and Management. “The foundation for excellence in AFIT’s Graduate School is our dedication to defense-focused graduate research. What emanates from that provides the basis for these competitive awards. I am delighted that our students, faculty, and alumni are flying the AFIT flag high everywhere.”
Maj. Costantinos Zagaris won the Air Force Outstanding Science and Engineering Educator Award. This award recognizes the efforts and achievements of the top Air Force instructor in the science and engineering fields, whose contributions and performance best characterize the principles of excellence in science and engineering education. Zagaris is an assistant professor of aerospace engineering within AFIT’s Graduate School of Engineering and Management. He made significant improvements to three graduate level courses, updating materials and including new methods to challenge students, earning numerous accolades from students. Additionally, he taught four highly technical graduate level courses to 51 students and directly contributed to the development of future Air and Space Force leaders.
Maj. Robert Bettinger earned the AF Science and Engineering Award, Exploratory or Advanced Technology Development – Individual category. This award is given for noteworthy achievements in areas of applied research or advanced technology development (budget activity 6.2, 6.3 or equivalent) with emphasis is on improving the technology readiness level, transitioning into acquisition programs, or direct fielding to operational forces. As an assistant professor of astronautical engineering within AFIT’s Graduate School of Engineering and Management, Bettinger secured $500k in DOD research grants to support space-based missile defense, satellite navigation and systems engineering in 2020. A subject matter expert, Bettinger advised a graduate student in exploring the use of nighttime city lights for satellite navigation in a contested environment and received a provisional patent for the technique.
The Cubesat Modeling Team received the AFIT Systems Engineering Award. This award recognizes AFIT students or teams for outstanding achievements in furthering systems engineering understanding in the Department of the Air Force. The student group of Maj. Sean Kelly, USSF, Capt. Keith Dreyer, USSF, and 1st Lt. Kyla Brown-Miller, USSF, completed groundbreaking research as part of their systems engineering master’s theses, demonstrating the use of model based systems engineering reference architectures in support of rapid prototyping of Cubesats. Their research documents an agile approach using MBSE, shortens the learning curve for new development teams, and facilitates rapid prototyping and system verification.
Additionally, three alumni from AFIT’s Graduate School of Engineering and Management earned awards: Lt. Col. Joseph Lay (M.S. Systems Engineering, 2014) received the AF Outstanding Scientist/Engineer Award - Mid-Career Military; Maj. William Adorno (M.S. Operations Research, 2015) received the John L. McLucas Basic Research Award; and Maj. Eli Garduno (M.S. Applied Physics, 2014) received the Engineering Achievement Award.