By Stacey Geiger, 88th Air Base Wing Public Affairs / Published July 17, 2019
Dr. Michael Grimaila, professor and department head of the Department of Systems Engineering and Management at the Air Force Institute of Technology talking to students at one of the SEC courses at AFIT. (Courtesy photo)
WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio – The Department of Systems Engineering and Management at the Air Force Institute of Technology offers tuition waived systems engineering programs for the military and civilian workforce.
The programs range from certificates up through doctoral degrees.
Certificate and master’s courses are offered both on-line and in-residence. Further, the certificate courses can be directly applied towards the completion of a Systems Engineering master’s degree. The Air Force Materiel Command has made investments to open additional offerings of the Systems Engineering Certificate program.
Areas of study in SEC are model-based systems engineering with systems modeling language, agile software development including cyber security engineering and resilience, system architecture development, and analysis of current challenges in defense acquisition and engineering.
Lt. Col. Amy Cox, assistant professor in AFIT’s Department of Systems Engineering and Management, manages the department’s on-line portfolio. Cox works with stakeholders and faculty to continuously adapt and refine the program’s offerings to reflect the state of the field of systems engineering while remaining relevant to Air Force stakeholder needs. This Air Force focus distinguishes AFIT’s program from other graduate schools.
“We are no longer in an environment of one degree or one phase of learning and done,” said Cox. “The world is fast moving and the skills that you need today are not necessarily the ones that you need tomorrow. An unstated ability that we all need to have is the ability to learn; it is how we adapt ourselves and broaden our perspectives. The Air Force depends on the ability of airmen to learn and adapt themselves to meet the needs of today and tomorrow.”
The SEC is composed of four graduate courses and can be taken online or in- residence. An average student takes the courses part time, one course at a time. At that pace the certificate can be completed in one year.
Cox said some students are able to double up the course load and finish within six months.
“The SEC program as well as the other Systems Engineering and Management offerings give students tools that help them more effectively manage complex systems,” said Cox. “From shaping problems statements and requirements, to exploring trade spaces, to analyzing alternatives and designing systems small and large. The SE courses give students ways to view and decompose problems; reducing the complexity to something that is tractable.”
Cox added that along with providing student’s knowledge and skills in advanced systems engineering tools and methods, due to the graduate format, students will receive a more in-depth treatment of topics thus allowing for greater mastery of the material.
There are four different ways a student can pursue the SEC program:
?As part of a sponsored full-time master’s program in parallel with the degree
?Part-time, on a space-available bases, either in-residence or online
?As part of an Air Force Materiel Command sponsored part time on-line program
?As part of an AFMC sponsored SEC Air War College in-residence program
“Thanks to legislation passed in recent years, Air Force military and civilian employees attend AFIT in a tuition waived status,” said Cox. “Our students are either Air Force employees attending with tuition waived or other eligible students who pay tuition such as defense contractors and other federal government employees who may not qualify for the waiver.”
Cox said there are also a variety of ways to be sponsored.
“Of particular note is the investment that AFMC has made in strengthening its competency in Systems Engineering,” said Cox. “AFMC Engineering sponsors two on-line SEC offerings (Fall and Spring) as well as the SEC/AWC in-residence program. Each has specific additional application requirements beyond the AFIT admissions form. These requirements and the submission timelines are provided in periodic data calls.”
The candidate call for the fall session is ongoing and nominations are being accepted until July 31. The primary targeted audiences are GS-13/NH-03 and Tier 2/DR-03 personnel with high potential to become chief engineers, group-level senior engineers, and lead system engineers. The program is on a space available basis to GS-12/NH-03 and Tier 1/DR-02 with a minimum of five years of government experience and at least two different unit assignments to include career broadening assignments.
To apply for the program, candidates need to work with Chief Engineers, group-level senior engineers, Lead Systems Engineers, wing-level tech directors, Directors of Engineering, and equivalents in preparing the nomination package.
All instructions and form templates can be found in the education and training tab at https://www.milsuite.mil/wiki/Portal:Air_Force_Engineering_Resource_Center
Regardless of sponsorship to participate in the program, prospective students need to apply to the program they are interested in taking via an on-line application at https://www.afit.edu/admissions/AFITApplicationProcess/.
For additional information about AFIT and the Department of Systems Engineering and Management, go to www.afit.edu.