New AFIT Graduate School dean shares vision for enhancing programs, partnerships

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  • By Air Force Institute of Technology
  • Air Force Institute of Technology


WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio -- The Air Force Institute of Technology welcomes Muhammad Mustafizur Rahman as new dean of the Graduate School of Engineering and Management.

He succeeds Adedeji Badiru, who retired in January, becoming the Graduate School’s ninth dean.

“Dr. Rahman brings very solid academic credentials to AFIT, along with successful leadership experience at several civilian universities,” said Walter Jones, AFIT director and chancellor.

Rahman has a wealth of experience in research and academia, coupled with a vision to enhance graduate programs, strengthen research initiatives and foster vital partnerships. His focus is on building on the strengths of the master’s programs to increase the number of doctoral students and publications, ultimately elevating AFIT’s reputation as a top-tier graduate institution.

“We are going to do workforce development for the Air Force, but at the same time, we're going to build our reputation so that we can be a good choice for potential students,” Rahman said.

He envisions pursuing research opportunities aligned with the Air Force’s future needs, leveraging faculty expertise to lead such efforts and collaborating on research center proposals. Rahman also plans to establish additional partnerships with civilian universities and federal laboratories to complement AFIT’s capabilities.

“We have productive and well-accomplished faculty with a strong research momentum,” he said. “The students are well disciplined and dedicated. I’m hoping that will help us to move forward in a faster fashion compared to any other civilian school.”

Collaboration is key to Rahman’s vision for the Graduate School. He plans to build closer relationships with the Air Force Research Laboratory, other universities and industry partners.

“This will allow AFIT to leverage its expertise and access new resources, ultimately leading to more impactful research and educational opportunities for students,” he said.

Beyond research, Rahman is committed to creating a supportive and inclusive environment for students, faculty and staff.

Recognizing the unique challenges faced by military students balancing studies with service commitments, he plans to implement initiatives to address these issues and ensure a valued and supported Graduate School community.

“I am excited to welcome Dr. Rahman back to Dayton and applaud his vision for the next level of excellence at AFIT,” said Heidi Ries, AFIT provost and chief academic officer.

Prior to joining the AFIT team, Rahman served as Bloomfield endowed chair professor and dean’s fellow-New Strategic Initiatives at Wichita State University in Kansas. In that role, he developed and implemented initiatives to significantly enhance academic programs, research, community engagement, alumni connection and endowment.

While at Wichita State, Rahman substantially increased the number of doctoral students and publications, demonstrating his ability to foster a thriving research environment. He initiated a new interdisciplinary graduate program in materials engineering, established three new master’s degree concentrations, and started graduate certificate programs in additive manufacturing and nanoengineering.

He acquired space and funds to build nine new research laboratories over five years to support the startup needs of all new hires. In the same period, he enhanced the mechanical engineering department’s research portfolio with an increase of over 900% in annual research expenditures with funds from several federal agencies, including NASA, the Department of Energy and National Science Foundation.

This is not Rahman’s first time in the Dayton area. He served as a research assistant professor/associate at Wright State University from 1988 to 1991 and spent two summers working at AFRL.

Rahman holds a Bachelor of Science degree from Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology, master’s from the University of Manitoba and doctorate from the University of California, Berkeley, all in mechanical engineering.

Driven to seek challenging problems, Rahman’s research interests include phase-change heat transfer, thermal management, renewable-power generation, energy storage, modeling and simulation, refrigeration and air conditioning.

He holds two U.S. patents, has published 115 journal papers, three book chapters, 155 papers in peer-reviewed conference proceedings and won two Best Paper awards. He’s been an invited keynote speaker at 15 internal conferences.

Over his career, he has received more than $9.14 million in research grants and contracts as principal or co-principal investigator.

Rahman is an American Society of Mechanical Engineers fellow and serves as a peer corps member with the Higher Learning Commission for Regional Institutional Accreditation Evaluation and ABET-Engineering Accreditation Commission program evaluator for mechanical engineering.