A little over a year after its launch, 27 students have earned the Air Force Institute of Technology’s data analytics certificate. Program staff and faculty members, Lt Col Hiren Patel, Dr Paul Auclair, Dr Andy Burrough, Dr Brent Langhals, Ms Heather Ruch, Lt Col Ben Hartlage, and Dr Neil Ranly work to address the growing need for Air and Space Force personnel with data analytics capabilities. (Contributed photo)
In the fall of 2019, the Air Force Institute of Technology launched an on-line data analytics certificate program designed to aid the U.S. Air and Space Forces in becoming more data-informed organizations. The five-course sequence focuses on enabling Airmen and Guardians to use and understand data analysis applications and tools and covers topics such as database design and management, machine learning, statistics, and computer programming. A little over a year later, over 414 students have taken at least one class and 27 have earned a certificate in data analytics as part of the first graduating class in winter 2021.
As the Air Force chief data officer, one of Eileen Vidrine’s primary goals is to help democratize the use of data analytics throughout the service. Mission effectiveness of all organizations could be enhanced by using data analytics to recognize actionable opportunities in the mountains of data they generate. Thus far, AFIT’s DA certificate program has helped meet this goal by reaching students from around the globe including all U.S. Air and Space Force major commands, Airmen/Guardians supporting U.S. European Command, U.S. Indo-Pacific Command, U.S. Transportation Command, Headquarters Air Force, over a dozen agencies and several direct reporting units.
AFIT’s DA certificate program director, Dr. Brent Langhals stated, “We are extremely excited by the reach our program is having throughout the Air and Space Forces. We are seeing interest from all corners of the Air Force and beyond, including new partnerships with organizations like Lawrence Livermore National Labs and the National Geospatial Agency.”
Currently, the data analytics certificate program is open to all active duty and civilian Air and Space Force personnel at no cost. Students can expect to gain an understanding of how to combine analysis techniques with their specialized expertise to enhance data analysis leading to better policies, processes, and decisions.
“This program is unique in that it challenges students to not just learn and understand data analytics tools, but also apply them to relevant work problems,” said Langhals. “We are especially proud of the capstone projects our students are completing which not only meet rigorous academic standards for academic publication but also provide real answers to relevant Air Force and DoD issues.”
The ability to recognize statistical and machine learning opportunities in data is a learned skill, and the knowledge gained from AFIT’s DA certificate program develops this ability in students to improve personnel retention, process efficiency and situational awareness. Infusing data analytics expertise into subject matter experts across the Air and Space Force has a strong potential to increase mission effectiveness at all levels.
More information on AFIT’s DA certificate is available on the AFIT website at www.AFIT.edu/EN/allprograms; questions can be emailed to AFITensDataAnalytics@afit.edu; and prospective students can apply online at www.afit.edu/Admissions/AFITApplicationProcess.