Civilian Back For Ph.D. In Astronautical Engineering

  • Published
  • By Jaclyn Knapp
  • Air Force Institute of Technology

Air Force civilian employee Thomas Fay chose the Air Force Institute of Technology to complete his graduate and doctoral education because of its unique position as an Air Force graduate research institute.  

“AFIT offered me the opportunity to advance my personal technical knowledge, gain hands-on research experience and then provide that expertise back to the Department of Defense while maintaining my current job,” said Fay, Astronautical Engineering doctoral student.

“The school’s convenient location near my office and the DoD sponsored tuition offered to Air Force civilian students made the decision even easier,” said Fay.

Fay completed his Master of Science in Space Systems at AFIT in 2018.  He returned to AFIT to pursue his doctorate in Astronautical Engineering so he could expand upon his MS research, and to maintain a consistent learning experience with faculty and resources that were already familiar to him.

“I strongly recommend civilian students attend AFIT! AFIT offers a number of unique benefits, including the opportunity to grow professional networks by studying side-by-side with our military counterparts, and the ability to tailor an academic program around issues of relevance to the DoD,” said Fay.

“These opportunities can enable significant career growth and development. AFIT is also easily the most convenient option due to the number of tuition-funded programs available to civilian employees, as well as its location for Wright-Patterson AFB personnel,” said Fay.

One program available to DoD civilians interested in attending AFIT is the Civilian Developmental Education program. CDE provides education and leadership opportunities that will prepare Air Force civilians to successfully meet challenges across a wide range of operations and missions. The 2022 application window for CDE is open to Feb 26.  

“CDE is an amazing program, and helps provide a critical means for making AFIT truly a ‘Total Force’ institution. Our civilian students are key asset to the ongoing defense-focused research that sets AFIT apart from its peer universities, and constitute an invaluable part of our space-related education and research programs,” said Maj. Robert Bettinger, deputy director of AFIT’s Center for Space Research and Assurance.

For up-to-date CDE information, visit the Civilian Force Development page on myPers from a common access card-enabled computer or select “Civilian Employee” from the myPers dropdown menu and search “developmental education.”  Required documents, application instructions, a list of CDE opportunities and other criteria are available on the page.  

Additional information can also be found at:

The Air Force Institute of Technology, located at Wright-Patterson AFB, is the Air Force’s graduate school of engineering and the student’s first choice for advanced academic education and career-long professional continuing education.

For additional information about graduate or post-doctoral degrees in astronautical engineering or space systems, please visit the CSRA website, call 937-255-6565 ext. 4753