AFIT Education Programs Advance the Digital Workforce

  • Published
  • By Katie Scott
  • Air Force Institute of Technology

Air Force Institute of Technology faculty participated in the Digital Dayton Roundtable at the University of Dayton Research Institute Curran Place on 4 March. The event focus was “Creating the Digital Materiel Management Workforce We Need: A Digital Transformation Office, Air Force Materiel Command and Industry Association Consortium Workshop.”

AFMC defines DMM as the process of integrating and employing digital methods across the entire lifecycle--from invention to retirement--for both warfighting capabilities as well as installation and mission support capabilities.

Robert Fookes, director of engineering and technical management and chief engineer for AFMC gave the leadership keynote address. He stressed the need for transformational changes in order to keep the AF competitive with near peers and align with the AF secretary’s global power competition focus areas.

“Horizontal integration across platforms to take advantage of Air Force technology and developing the tools, knowledge and culture to enable DMM is critical to organizational structural change,” Fookes said.

“There is an increased need to make data-driven decisions faster. To do that, the workforce must be lifelong learners. You don’t need to be a subject matter expert in everything; however, you need to expand in other areas, so your work considers the interoperable nature of DMM.  Educating the DMM workforce will improve cross-communication between one domain and the other so that we are reaching more global-optimized solutions rather than local-optimized solutions.  We need to think of ourselves as a T-shaped professional.  Where the vertical part of the T represents our SME capability and the horizontal part of the T represents our interoperability.”

Anderson stressed that AFIT’s offerings are defense-focused, flexible, network enablers and open to the majority of the audience including federal workers, academic partners through agreements and critical industry partners.

“AFIT students are not just earning a graduate degree.  They can attend a four-hour workshop, take a graduate course, or get a certificate.  During that education, we focus on the military challenges that are key to realizing digital material management.”

“The School of Systems and Logistics has combined efforts with the Digital Innovation and Integration Center of Excellence to develop a DMM Academy with three course paths to address the acquisition stage an organization or program is coming through. Research and Early System Development is our base design. Second is getting into system acquisition for program offices. And the third is focused on sustainment programs. We want to make sure that we are meeting the organizations where they are in their stage of the lifecycle and providing all functional positions the education they need to construct their own integrated digital environment.”

“AFIT’s systems engineering program is a family of five programs including a certificate, two master’s degrees and a PhD program. About half our students are civilian engineers. We do a lot of group work in our classes, so I want to have operators working with engineers, working with civilians and military on teams. That is how we move past stovepipes to enable the changes needed to build an effective DMM workforce.”

Cox also discussed how the graduate degree program research is trying to tackle current Air Force challenges while giving students a head start on using DMM tools.

“We are set up to be that sandbox where students can play with some of these DMM modeling technologies.  Students have a chance to learn and identify applications that are relevant to them.”

The Digital Dayton Roundtable served as a pivotal platform for AFIT faculty to engage in discussions crucial to the implementation of DMM across AFMC.

“AFIT is a vital player in shaping the future of digital transformation,” Anderson said. “AFIT's commitment to defense-focused education reflects a proactive approach to developing a DMM workforce capable of transforming the Air Force to remain competitive globally.”