The Department of Systems Engineering and Management within AFIT’s Graduate School of Engineering and Management reported significant growth in its Systems Engineering (SE) program’s graduation rate during the 2021-2022 academic year. As the Graduate School’s home for Digital Engineering, and specifically Model-Based Systems Engineering, the department’s portfolio of SE programs graduated 108 students this academic year, which is a record for the program. The graduates included:
This academic year saw an additional important milestone for the department. At the conclusion of the academic year, the department had graduated 1,009 students since the program was restructured in 2003.
“For these milestones, I cannot emphasize enough the team effort from across the faculty and staff to make this work. At the core of the department are the continuous efforts of Ms. Lynn Curtis, Dr. Dave Jacques, Dr. John Colombi and Mr. John Reisner. This team has worked together from the beginning and they have poured so much into our students’ success and our program’s excellence. They have taken us from 1 to 100 graduates per year over the last two decades; the 1000+ alumni in that time have all benefited from the efforts of these four,” said Lt Col Amy Cox, Program Chair and Assistant Professor of Systems Engineering.
Cox explained that in 2002, SE had only one student and the program was one of the lesser known options in AFIT’s Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics. In response to an initiative from the Secretary of the Air Force, the program was restructured in 2003 and became one of the lead programs in the Department of Systems Engineering and Management.
“We adapt as we go, incorporating the needs of sponsors and responding to opportunities in the field. Our early efforts in distance learning were fueled by the Air Force Research Laboratory’s Space Vehicles Directorate (AFRL/RV), SMC and Sandia National Laboratory workforce development needs,” said Cox.
The department continues to receive support from leaders across the Department of Defense, with persistent sponsorship and funding from Air Force Materiel Command and the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics. The department’s leadership and faculty constantly strives to align itself with the needs of the service and the workforce.
Since 2003, the department has continuously improved its in-residence offerings while steadily increasing its outreach. The first distance learning options were offered in 2003 and the department has offered a distance learning masters since 2006. “We have gone from a single degree offering (an in-resident thesis-based master’s in Systems Engineering) to ever expanding options for students. In addition to our original offering, we now have a family of programs that includes a graduate Systems Engineering Certificate, a capstone-based Masters of Engineering in Applied Systems Engineering, and a Doctorate of Philosophy,” said Cox. All but the doctoral program are available both online and in-residence.
The department’s portfolio of programs not only draws students from across the Air and Space Force and from around the globe, but it also attracts students from across the DoD and federal government. “Our robust course offerings, flexible degree plans, and off-duty hour class times have a proven track record, which can be seen in our recent online graduation numbers. Our courses are in alignment with current military objectives and drastically improve the qualifications and capabilities of the workforce,” explained Cox.
The department counts at least eight General Officers among its alumni, as well as civilian leaders throughout acquisitions and engineering. “It has been fulfilling to enable the life-long learning of our students and to guide them in defense-focused research. We will build on this legacy to aid our students' pursuit of life-long learning, to accomplish relevant defense-focused research and to support the workforce development needs of the DoD. Here's to the next two decades and beyond,” said Cox.