AFIT commencement ceremony celebrates 206 graduates

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

The Air Force Institute of Technology’s Graduate School of Engineering and Management held a commencement ceremony at the National Museum of the Air Force at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio March 21 to celebrate 206 new graduates.

The Graduate School conferred 196 master’s degrees and four doctorate degrees in science, technology, engineering and math fields. Additionally, one master’s student and five doctoral alumni, who graduated earlier in the academic year, returned to participate in the ceremony.

The graduating class included 132 Air Force, 27 Space Force, four Army, and six Marine Corps officers, four Air Force enlisted and 23 civilians. Ten international students from Australia, Bahrain, Brazil, Germany, Israel and Saudi Arabia received a master’s degree. Two graduates earned dual master’s degrees: Capt. Andre Romualdo in space systems and systems engineering and 1st Lt. Erica Higginbotham in aeronautical engineering and astronautical engineering.

The ceremony’s keynote address was delivered by Dr. Mark Lewis, chief executive officer of Purdue Applied Research Institute and former Air Force chief scientist. Lewis drew upon historical precedents, discussing pivotal decisions made by engineers and procurement analysts that shaped the development and deployment of aircraft like the B17 and B18 bombers prior to World War II.

“These decisions matter, and each and every one of you in this room will in some way touch future decisions that will also matter and shape the future of warfare,” Lewis said. “Those decisions will determine whether we are successful in future conflict or, even more importantly, whether we can deter future conflict.”

Lewis extended his congratulations and expressed gratitude to the graduating class for their dedication to national defense.

“I want to congratulate all of you on your accomplishments,” Lewis said. “And more importantly, I want to thank you because you are dedicating yourselves, your technical skills, your talents, your analytical abilities, to the defense of freedom and the national defense of your nation and that is a very special gift that you are giving back to your countries.”

Located at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, AFIT’s mission is to educate defense professionals to innovatively accomplish the deterrence and warfighting missions of the Air and Space Forces.

At an awards ceremony earlier in the day, the following students were recognized for their exemplary performance:

  • 2nd Lt. Andrew Kauffman from the Aeronautics and Astronautics department received the Chancellor’s Award for producing the most exceptional individual master’s thesis.
  • Maj. David Pert (Army) from the Engineering Physics department received the Mervin E. Gross Award for his exceptional academic achievement and high qualities of character, initiative and leadership. The award is named in honor of Brig. Gen. Mervin E. Gross, the institute’s first commandant.
  • Travis Grile from the Aeronautics and Astronautics department received the Louis F. Polk Award. The winner of this award exhibits the highest standards of academic and professional accomplishment, and through their research, makes a significant contribution toward strengthening the nation’s industrial defense base.
  • Capt. Carlina Ostrand from the Operational Sciences department received the Edwin E. Aldrin Sr. Award presented for displaying the most exceptional leadership characteristics while in the graduate program. The award is sponsored by the Wright Memorial Chapter of the Air and Space Forces Association and named in honor of Lieutenant Edwin E. Aldrin Sr., a member of the institute’s first graduating class in 1920. Upon graduation, he became AFIT’s first vice commandant.
  • Staff Sgt. Steven Torres from the Systems Engineering and Management department received the Secretary James G. Roche Award for demonstrating exceptional academic achievement through a combination of grade-point average and outstanding research, as well as high qualities of character, initiative, leadership and service. The award is named after Air Force Secretary James G. Roche, whose leadership in 2002 led to the first class of enlisted members into the Graduate School of Engineering and Management

The following students met all degree requirements and were approved for the designated degree (in bold):

Doctorate of Philosophy
Aeronautical Engineering
Capt. Kevin DeMarco**
Maj. Alexander Lesieur**

Astronautical Engineering
Nathan Boone

Computer Engineering
Maj. Joshua Lapso**

Electrical Engineering
Capt. Jeffery Massman
Maj. Nicholas Yielding**

Systems Engineering
Lt. Col. Daniel Moomey**

Nuclear Engineering
Stephanie Neuscamman

Systems Engineering
Sara Shaghaghi

Master of Engineering in Applied Systems Engineering
1st Lt. Stephen Brown (Space Force)
Theodore Cremeans
Joseph Natarian
Maj. Paul Owens
Ivan Sanchez Pedraza
Capt. Andrew Tupper
Christian Varadi (Germany)

Master of Science (Aeronautical Engineering)
Capt. Alexander Hansen

Master of Science (Applied Mathematics)
2nd Lt. Staci Davis

Master of Science (Engineering Management)
Capt. Maria Hurtado (Marine Corps)
Capt. Ryan LaLonde (Marine Corps)
Technical Sgt. Lauren Mainolfi
Capt. Aaron Neal (Marine Corps)
Technical Sgt. Jesse Solorzano
Staff Sgt. Steven Torres

Master of Science (Space Systems)
Capt. Andre Romualdo (dual degree)
Capt. Brooke Wagenblast (Space Force)

Master of Science (Systems Engineering)
Hans Hinners
Nathan Hodges

Master of Science in Acquisition and Program Management
Capt. Joshua Bonvissuto (Space Force)
1st Lt. Katelyn Clements
Capt. John Gillispie
1st Lt. Hart Holt
1st Lt. Holden Holt
Capt. Kyle Marquis
Capt. Todd Millard*
2nd Lt. Anthony Neil (Space Force)
Capt. Ryan Sevigny (Space Force)
Capt. Michael Shutlock
2nd Lt. Jacob Thomas (Space Force)
Capt. Casey Wood (Space Force)

Master of Science in Aeronautical Engineering
2nd Lt. Andrew Bonavita* (Space Force)
2nd Lt. Caleb Degler
2nd Lt. John Di Lella
2nd Lt. Matthew Evans (Space Force)
1st Lt. Erica Higginbotham (dual degree)
Joshua Hunter
2nd Lt. Andrew Kauffman*
2nd Lt. Shane Lindsay (Space Force)
Capt. Isaiah Martinez
1st Lt. Tia Massa
1st Lt. Cameron McMahan
1st Lt. Joseph Puglisi
2nd Lt. Joseph Rogers
1st Lt. Rene Velazquez (Space Force)
Capt. Adam Warren

Master of Science in Applied Physics
1st Lt. Seth Bacon
2nd Lt. Noah Everett
2nd Lt. Robert Hall
2nd Lt. Seth Orson
Capt. Eli Parsch
Capt. Jackson Piechowski
1st Lt. Marco Pirozzoli*
Capt. Kyle Roberts
1st Lt. Jacob Vande Griend

Master of Science in Astronautical Engineering
2nd Lt. Audra Blazicko
1st Lt. Ansell Cabrera (Space Force)
Christian Conkle
Capt. Collin Dart
2nd Lt. David Garcia (Space Force)
Travis M. Grile**
2nd Lt. Stephanie Halsey* (Space Force)
1st Lt. Erica Higginbotham (dual degree)
2nd Lt. Kealy Murphy (Space Force)
2nd Lt. Kaitlin Roberts Wagner (Space Force)
Capt. Ryan Sargent (Space Force)
2nd Lt. Connor Slattery (Space Force)
Capt. Clint Spesard
Ryan Vorst

Master of Science in Atmospheric Science
Capt. Nathan Stanford
Capt. Natalie Wirth
Capt. Scott Wolff

Master of Science in Computer Engineering
2nd Lt. Dawson Friesenhahn* (Space Force)
1st Lt. Ludvig Oliver
2nd Lt. Sean Quiterio (Space Force)
Capt. Charles Rockett
Travis York

Master of Science in Computer Science
Maj. Anthony Brunson
Allen Dukes
2nd Lt. Christian Grauberger
Capt. Petersen Hansen
Capt. Michael Hastriter, Jr.
2nd Lt. Takashi Joubert
1st Lt. Joshua Krutz (Space Force)
1st Lt. Luke McFadden
Capt. Dang-Khoa Nguyen
1st Lt. Kevin Patterson
Blake Perkins
2nd Lt. Tanner Todd
Capt. Jim Wang
Capt. Jordan Williamson
Technical Sgt. Mason Wright

Master of Science in Cost Analysis
Capt. Dustin Brewer*
Capt. Ryan Candella
1st Lt. Andrew Chung
Capt. Carla Cisneros
1st Lt. Collin Gwaltney (Space Force)
2nd Lt. Ryan Jansen
Capt. Bryan Palmer
1st Lt. Izel Reyes
Capt. Shane Scantling
2nd Lt. David Smith
1st Lt. Dawson Vasconi
Bradley Vuu

Master of Science in Cyber Operations
Capt. Courtney Fleming*
Capt. Jeffery Knight*
Capt. Aaron Morath
2nd Lt. Lauren Puseman

Master of Science in Data Science
2nd Lt. Madison Hofmann
2nd Lt. Paige Luebbering
2nd Lt. Taylor Markham
2nd Lt. Alexander Milham*
2nd Lt. Sung O
2nd Lt. Connor Oswald
2nd Lt. Victor Rae
Capt. Jung Yae

Master of Science in Electrical Engineering
Sean Abrahamson
2nd Lt. Jason Burdette (Space Force)
Capt. Benjamin Fingerie
Capt. Moriel Gindi* (Israel)
Stephen Gould
2nd Lt. Zachary Legg
Capt. Kurt Meier
Capt. Nat Thomason (Australia)
Capt. Alexander Weber

Master of Science in Engineering Management
Capt. Juan Alb
Capt. Al-Jhon Barrogo
2nd Lt. Michael Berg
Capt. Timothy DeJong
Capt. John Diskin (Marine Corps)
Capt. Bethany Dorian*
Capt. Victoria Groleau
Capt. Wei Guan
Capt. Alan Heng
2nd Lt. William Hunter*
Capt. Ryan Jakovich
Capt. Kristina Johnson
Capt. Zachary Johnson (Marine Corps)
Capt. Sean McCarty
Maj. Christopher Morales*
Capt. Benjamin Rieben
Capt. Peter Spinks (Marine Corps)
2nd Lt. Evan Ward
Capt. Richard Wilkens

Master of Science in Logistics
Capt. Taylor Vonasek

Master of Science in Logistics and Supply Chain Management
Capt. Abdulaziz Aljalahma (Bahrain)
Maj. Abdulmajeed Alkthiri (Saudi Arabia)
Capt. Muath Almaiman (Saudi Arabia)
Capt. Nasser Alrashed (Saudi Arabia)
Maj. Saleh Alshuhri (Saudi Arabia)
Capt. Kateyn Barton
Capt. Rodrigo Campos de Moura (Brazil)
Maj. Clay Chaffin*
Capt. Eric Draudt
Capt. Carlina Ostrand
Capt. Gregory Picardi
Capt. Daniel Straw

Master of Science in Materials Science
Capt. Vivian Hedberg

Master of Science in Nuclear Engineering
2nd Lt. Brayden Buckley
Matthew Earl
Maj. Tyler Halbert (Army)
2nd Lt. Lucas Heaton
Maj. David Pert* (Army)
Maj. Ian Poropat (Army)
2nd Lt. Dustin Rodgers
Capt. Caleb Sapp
Christopher Smith
Capt. Matthew Stone

Master of Science in Operations Research
2nd Lt. Merrick Bedford
Capt. Jacob Bryant*
Maj. Ori Chachmo* (Israel)
2nd Lt. Maria Chedzoy
2nd Lt. William Clay
Joshua Combs
2nd Lt. Grant Engel
2nd Lt. Colin Foley
2nd Lt. Noah Fox
2nd Lt. Layton Hedge
2nd Lt. Michael Kaminski
2nd Lt. Phillip Koenig
Maj. Daniel Krizan (Army)
Capt. Jacob Lang
2nd Lt. Kathleen MacLean
Samantha O'Rourke
2nd Lt. Jacob Pike
2nd Lt. George Valaika
2nd Lt. Ebony Williams
Capt. Luke Wunderlich (Space Force)

Master of Science in Systems Engineering
Maj. Ryan Berndt (Space Force)
Capt. Aaron Gettemy* (Space Force)
Capt. Justin Moore
1st Lt. Brandyn Newsome
1st Lt. Ian Oberndorfer
Capt. Elizabeth Pennington*
Maj. Cole Piper
Capt. Andre Romualdo (dual degree)
Capt. Stephanie Slimp
Maj. Kurt Spranger (Space Force)
Capt. Emily Tritschler

*Distinguished Graduate
**Returned to walk