Maxwell SNCO one of two enlisted contracting Airmen ever accepted to Naval Postgraduate School

  • Published
  • By Mark Gaston
  • Air University Public Affairs

A senior noncommissioned officer with the 42nd Contracting Squadron is one of two Air Force enlisted contracting members ever to attend the Naval Postgraduate School, located in Monterey, Calif. 

Master Sgt. Ryan Schnepf from the 42nd Contracting Squadron will be joined by Master Sgt. Kade Forrester from the 11th Contracting Squadron at Joint Base Andrews, Md., when school starts in July 2022. The pair of SNCOs are each pursuing a Master of Business Administration in Acquisition and Contracts Management degree. 

Historically, the Air Force sends only competitively selected officers to the Naval Postgraduate School to pursue their MBA.

“I have mixed emotions about being selected for this once-in-a-year career opportunity.  On one hand, I am beyond ecstatic and feel extremely privileged to represent the Air Force’s contracting enlisted corps in the pursuit of higher educational opportunities,” said Schnepf.  “Equally, I am a bit nervous as both Master Sergeant Kade Forrester, and I will be the first two ‘trailblazers’ setting the standards for future enlisted members. I will give my 100 percent like I have done over my past 20 years in the service and let my grades and cross-sharing of information speak for themselves.”

The school’s 18-month in-resident program’s curriculum is an interdisciplinary program that integrates management theory, accounting, economics, finance, behavioral science, management theory, operations/systems analysis, and specific courses in acquisition and contracting.

Schnepf was selected as a “most-qualified member” based on criteria established by the contracting career field manager. To be selected, the member has to be a master sergeant or master sergeant-select and hold a bachelor’s degree with a minimum grade point average of 3.0. Additionally, candidates must possess an Acquisition Professional Development Plan Level 2 Certification and a Contracting Officer Warrant of $5M or higher. Finally, the top candidates are personally interviewed by the career field manager.

Schnepf finds inspiration from Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. CQ Brown, Jr. and his Accelerate Change or Lose priority.

“We must candidly assess ourselves and address our own internal impediments to change,” said Schnepf. “In doing so, we must acknowledge the realities of the fiscal environment to ensure that the U.S. Air Force is gaining the most value and being good stewards of taxpayer dollars.”   

Schnepf is looking forward to developing his critical thinking skills within the acquisition and contracting community and applying the skills to real-world situations to enhance the functional community’s impact on the Department of the Air Force’s global missions. 

“I am interested in the depth and breadth of the curriculum from the Naval Postgraduate School professors and the collaboration with my fellow contracting students from all branches of the Department of Defense,” he said. “The cross-sharing of information and collaboration within the contracting community is invaluable in pursuing speed in our acquisitions and accelerating change within our Air Force.”

After graduation, he is looking forward to bringing the knowledge and experience back to others within the contracting community in support of the Air Force Contracting Flight Plan’s charge to optimize the Acquisition Enterprise to ensure the Air Force continues to “own the high ground.”

“We are so thrilled for Master Sergeant Schnepf on his competitive selection to the Naval Postgraduate School,” said Lt. Col. Miranda Lashinski, 42nd Contracting Squadron commander. “He’s absolutely invested in developing his contracting craft and in sharing that knowledge with others. I have no doubt that this educational experience, coupled with his passion for engaging with mission partners and finding the best right ways to meet their procurement needs, will further hone his capability as an Air Force contracting change agent and mission-focused business leader.”