AFIT commencement ceremony celebrates 206 graduates

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

WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio – The Air Force Institute of Technology’s Graduate School of Engineering and Management held a commencement ceremony March 21 at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force to honor 206 new graduates.

The Graduate School conferred 196 master’s degrees and four doctorate degrees in science, technology, engineering and math fields. In addition, 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, as well as four enlisted Airmen 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 such as the B-17 and B-18 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,” he 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 its dedication to national defense.  

“I want to congratulate all of you on your accomplishments,” he added. “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.
  • Army Maj. David Pert 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 was presented 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 for displaying the most exceptional leadership characteristics while in the graduate program. The award is sponsored by the Air and Space Forces Association’s Wright Memorial Chapter and named in honor of Lt. 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 earned 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 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