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Welcome to the Air Force Institute of Technology

Faculty Receive AFA Sponsored Awards
Posted Thursday, June 06, 2019


Four AFIT faculty members received awards sponsored by the Wright Memorial Chapter 212 of the Air Force Association.  The winners were honored at a ceremony on 21 May 2019.


Captain Ryan Hill was selected to receive the General Bernard A. Schriever Award.    This award is given in recognition of a person who advances aerospace power, technology, doctrine, or the Air Force as a profession.   Capt Hill is a Pavements and Geotechnical Engineering Instructor within AFIT’s Civil Engineer School.  His primary duty is directing the Airfield Pavement Construction Inspection and Airfield Pavement Design and Maintenance courses. In addition, he is a senior instructor in the nine-week Civil Engineer Officer Initial Skills Training course.  In 2018, Capt Hill advanced AF education as a profession through his innovative approaches to developmental education for the Civil Engineer Initial Skills Training course.  He also advocated the importance of airfield pavement construction evaluation education as a member of the Tri-Service Pavement Working Group.  Additionally, Capt Hill advanced aerospace power while deployed as the Airfield Subject Matter Expert in Air Force Central Command, using his expertise to ensure the zero mission down time of forty-five airfields and 334 million dollars of airfield projects.



Dr. Brian Lunday was selected to receive the Professor Ezra Kotcher Award.    This award is given to recognize an individual who has made significant contributions to curriculum development within AFIT.  Dr. Lunday is an Associate Professor of Operations Research within AFIT’s Graduate School of Engineering and Management.  Prior to beginning service as a civilian faculty member, Dr. Lunday served for 24 years as an active duty Army officer in a variety of leadership, combat engineering, military planning, and educational assignments.  Dr. Lunday’s service to education includes 12 years of teaching, advising, and researching in both Department of Operational Sciences at AFIT and the Department of Mathematical Sciences at the U.S. Military Academy.  In 2018, Dr. Lunday designed and led a formal, systematic analysis to align educational outcomes from the Master of Science in Operations Research program with Operations Analyst Career Field educational needs, and identified and addressed shortcomings.  The AF identified the enhanced program as the new Initial Skills Training for Operations Analysts, increasing annual program enrollment by 100% beginning in 2019 and, ultimately, improving the career field’s decision-making support to Air Force leadership.



Major Omar Nava was selected to receive the Colonel Charles A. Stone Award.    This award is given to recognize an individual who has made outstanding contributions to furthering the AFIT mission.  Emphasis is on new and innovative efforts or approaches, involving demonstrated personal leadership.  Maj. Nava is an Assistant Professor of Atmospheric Science within AFIT’s Graduate School of Engineering and Management.  Within the Atmospheric Science program, Maj Nava directs the academic planning for 12 Air Force officers, instructs four graduate terrestrial weather courses, and serves as both advisor and committee member for student thesis research in support of top DOD research priorities. In addit6ion, he conducts cutting-edge space physics research supported by Air Force Research Laboratory, National Programs, and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency.  In 2018, Maj Nava executed data collection campaigns at Kwajalein in the Pacific and Iceland in the Atlantic developing methods for predicting Space Weather events to improve forecast times of degraded performance of geolocation and long range high-frequencies systems. Additionally, Maj Nava drove $750K in scientific research supporting 18 Master’s students and one post-doctoral researcher.



Mr. Richard Kappel was selected to receive the Gage H. Crocker Award.    This award is presented to the individual who made the most significant contribution to the AFIT mission during the previous year.  Evidence of excellence in teaching, curriculum development, educational innovation, consulting, research, mentoring and any other achievements which enhance or contribute to maintaining the excellence of AFIT’s academic programs were collectively considered.  Mr. Kappel is an Environmental Management Instructor and Course Director within AFIT’s Civil Engineer School.  He directs Hazardous Waste Management, Qualified Recycling Program Management, AF Annual RCRA Refresher courses, and is the creator and director of eight web-based, on-demand courses.  In addition, Mr. Kappel teaches lessons in many other courses such as Introduction to Environmental Management, Unit Environmental Coordinator, and Advanced Air Quality Management.  In 2018, Mr. Kappel directed nine courses and delivered over 200 hours of instruction to 703 joint students.  He authored the first ever distant learning course for new civil engineer civilian employees that encompasses 16 lessons, 11 instructors and 40 hours of content.  Mr. Kappel also pioneered a low-cost, three-dimensional virtual reality capability that provides an immersive learning experience for students in eight different courses.