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AFIT Selects Alumni Award Winners

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

WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio--The Air Force Institute of Technology and the AFIT Foundation selected five graduates to receive alumni awards to be presented at a ceremony in AFIT’s Kenney Auditorium on Oct. 20, 2022, at 11 a.m. EST.  The event is open to those with access to Wright-Patterson Air Force Base and will be live streamed at

AFIT Distinguished Alumni Award

Retired Col. Susanne Waylett (M.S. Engineering Management, 1984) will receive the AFIT Distinguished Alumni Award. This award is the highest honor bestowed on an alumnus in recognition for high levels of career achievement. Waylett has been a pioneer throughout her career in the Air Force. She was the first female, officer or enlisted, to enter the civil engineering career field in 1971. She later became the first female civil engineering squadron commander in 1987 and the first civil engineering female to reach the rank of colonel in 1993, paving the way for other women in a traditionally male-dominated career field.

Continuing her career of firsts, Waylett will be the first woman to receive the award. The AFIT Distinguished Alumni Award was established in 1979, and to date, 39 alumni have been honored.  Waylett will be joining the ranks of previous award winners including Gen. George Kenney, Gen. Bernard Schriever, Lt. Gen. Jimmy Doolittle and Col. Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin, Jr.

AFIT International Alumni Award

Two alumni from Pakistan will receive the AFIT International Alumni Award.  Established in 2019, this award honors international graduates who have distinguished themselves through exceptional career achievement.

Dr. Zaffir Chaudhry (M.S. Aeronautical Engineering, 1985) is a technical fellow at Raytheon Technologies Research Center, the most senior rank in the technical ladder at Raytheon. He has over 60 publications and one book chapter and holds 60 U.S. patents. His engineering achievements include the development of a two-stage fire suppression valve, an active rotor for noise and vibration reduction and a first-of-a-kind demonstration using refrigerant lubricated bearings in a compressor of a large chiller.

Dr. Mohammad Javed Khan (M.S. Aeronautical Engineering, 1980) is head of the Aerospace Science Engineering Department at Tuskegee University. During his 28 years of active duty service, he held several key appointments, including commanding officer of the engineering wing for the largest operational base of the Pakistan Air Force and technical advisor to the Royal Saudi Air Force. Khan also serves as the chair of the Board of Directors of a U.S. non-profit, the Central Asia Institute. This organization supports children’s education, and especially girls’ education, in remote areas of Afghanistan, Pakistan and Tajikistan. Annual funding for its projects in these countries is approximately $2 million.

AFIT Young Alumni Award

Two alumni were selected to receive the AFIT Young Alumni Award.  This award was established in 2019 to call attention to the achievements of alumni who have made outstanding contributions in their career within ten years of graduating from AFIT.

Lt. Col. Juan Jurado (PhD, Electrical Engineering, 2019 and M.S. Electrical Engineering, 2012, DG) is the commander of a classified flight test squadron for the Air Force Test Center, where he leads a team of more than 100 engineers, operators and analysts through multiple elevated-risk, high-impact survivability flight test programs directly supporting national security objectives across 20 special access programs and 10 aircraft types.  As a master’s student, he developed a novel camera calibration technique for image-aided navigation in GPS-denied environments, which led to a 35% improvement in navigation accuracy when compared to state-of-the-art methods.

Dr. Mark Spencer (Ph.D. Optical Sciences and Engineering, 2014 and M.S. Optical Sciences and Engineering, 2011) is a senior research physicist in the Air Force Research Laboratory’s Directed Energy Directorate. Spencer is a significant contributor to the state of the art in optics and photonics, having authored more than 100 technical publications, one textbook, one book chapter, 35 journal articles and 64 conference papers. He also holds three U.S. patents. He has led 40 projects with funding in excess of $40 million that continue to develop and transition directed-energy technology with an emphasis on beam control for laser systems. As an AFIT student, Spencer founded AFIT’s SPIE Student Chapter, which won numerous awards during his tenure.  He continues to support the chapter as a professional advisor and sponsor.

About AFIT

The Air Force Institute of Technology (AFIT), located at Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio is the Department of the Air Force’s Graduate School of Engineering and Management as well as its institution for technical professional continuing education. AFIT is committed to providing relevant defense-focused technical 

graduate and continuing education, research and consultation to sustain the technological supremacy of America’s air, space and cyber forces.  For more information, visit: www.afit.edu.

About the AFIT Foundation

The AFIT Foundation is a private organization founded in 1986 for the purpose of furthering the goals of the Air Force Institute of Technology. The Foundation is committed to informing alumni, former faculty and friends everywhere of the mission, status, goals and achievements of AFIT and its role in the community, the Department of the Air Force and in defense-related education. For more information, visit: www.afitfoundation.or