Col James Fee, Graduate School of Engineering and Management Associate Dean, congratulates Dr. Bradley Liebst, Department of Aeronautics & Astronautics Head and Professor of Aerospace Engineering, on 33 years of dedication and service to the Air Force Institute of Technology.
Upon his retirement from AFIT in September 2022, Dr. Bradley Liebst had dedicated 33 years of his career to AFIT's Graduate School of Engineering and Management - both as a faculty member and as part of the Graduate School leadership. Liebst retired as Head of the Aeronautics & Astronautics Department – a position which he held for 24 years. In addition, he enjoyed time in the classroom as a Professor of Aerospace Engineering.
“I am proud of the high quality of graduates, staff and faculty that have floated through the Aero. Dept over the years. I like to think I did have some positive influence in that,” said Liebst.
Liebst received his Ph.D. in Aeronautical Engineering from the prestigious Massachusetts Institute of Technology and began his career teaching at the University of Minnesota. He left the university to pursue work in the aerospace industry, but when he was contacted by the Aerospace Department Head at AFIT about a faculty opening in the department, he made the move to Ohio and returned to his teaching career.
“When I arrived at AFIT, professors had 12 month contracts. The Dean at the time pushed to move us to the standard civilian model of 9 or 10 month contracts, which meant faculty had to bring in their remaining salary through sponsored research. This resulted in AFIT having a major increase in sponsored research and publication production and quality,” said Liebst.
During his career at AFIT, Liebst was principal investigator in funded research projects totaling more than $2M and he published over 50 articles and reports. In addition, he received the 2002 Best Paper of the Year Award from the Journal of Aerospace Engineering and became an Associate Fellow of American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics. His professional society memberships also include the American Society of Mechanical Engineers and the American Helicopter Society.
Liebst continually provided service to his profession as a member of several local councils and committees and was appointed a technical expert for the Safety Investigation Board that investigated the crash on 31 July 2008 of an F-15D at Nellis AFB.
Reflecting upon the past 33 years, Liebst said the vast majority of changes he has witnessed at AFIT have been positive. For example, enlisted airmen were not allowed to attend AFIT when he first arrived, but that policy changed and in 2004 the first enlisted students earned master’s degrees from the Graduate School. Liebst also recalled a time when the Wright Brothers five-foot diameter wind tunnel was still operational and was operated by AFIT.
When asked to share his favorite memory of AFIT, Liebst replied, “I have so many fond memories. AFIT is a special place with a well-defined mission that is vitally important to the future of the Department of the Air Force. I enjoyed working with bright and hard-working students, staff and faculty – 99% of which were happy to be at AFIT and all pulled together to provide first-rate graduate education to the Department of the Air Force.”
Notable Career Highlights: