Twin lieutenants graduate with master’s degrees from AFIT

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

WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio – First Lts. Hart and Holden Holt, identical twins from Princeton, North Carolina, are poised to make significant contributions to the Air Force following their recent graduation from the Air Force Institute of Technology’s Graduate School of Engineering and Management.

The brothers, who pursued master's degrees in acquisition and program management, embody a blend of dedication, intellectual curiosity and shared passion for serving their country.

The Holts have always been close. They not only shared a similar life path but also thrived in AFIT’s demanding academic environment, crediting the program for providing them with the skills and knowledge to excel in their Air Force careers.

The Acquisition and Program Management master’s program, designed to hone critical-thinking skills and foster innovative problem-solving capabilities, has equipped the twins with invaluable tools for navigating the complexities of the Department of Defense and Air Force acquisition communities. Their curriculum included a comprehensive array of courses, ranging from decision and risk analysis to systems engineering, all aimed at preparing students for multifaceted roles within military acquisition management.

Holden reflects on the program, emphasizing the pivotal role of data-driven decision-making, stating: “Our life has just been research for the past year.”

Meanwhile, Hart underscores the program's emphasis on applied statistics and research.

“It was hard, but it was a really good program,” he said. “I realized the added benefit of doing research, and that’s a great takeaway. You get way more than just a degree. You do truly feel that you have learned enough to better the next organization you’re at, which is good.”

Their respective theses delve into pressing issues within the realm of defense acquisition. Holden’s research focused on public-private partnerships in the semiconductor industry, while Hart’s explored challenges faced by small businesses in navigating the Small Business Innovation Research program.

Despite encountering hurdles in obtaining data, their tenacity and prior experience facilitated their research endeavors. The research process, while challenging, proved to be a valuable learning experience.

“Having a previous assignment before coming to AFIT definitely helped us determine our thesis topics,” Hart said. “It gave us some real-world experience to draw from, which made the research process a little bit easier.”

Added Holden: “I think one of the biggest takeaways from our program is making data-driven decisions and obviously research is a big part of that. We’ve learned a lot, like how to make rational decisions based on data, how to deep-dive on a topic and how to really research something, letting it consume you.”

The Holt twins also shared similar interests that led them down a parallel career path. They both attended East Carolina University, earning bachelor’s degrees in business administration and finance before joining the Air Force through ROTC.

After graduation, their first assignment was a two-year operational exchange in contracting, with Holden stationed at Lakenheath, England, and Hart in Spangdahlem, Germany. This experience not only provided valuable professional experience they leveraged to inform their thesis topics, but also allowed them to explore various European locations, fostering their love of travel.

The brothers found that being twins at AFIT had both advantages and disadvantages.

While their similar backgrounds and study habits allowed them to bounce ideas off each other and work together effectively, their identical looks and similar names occasionally led to confusion, even within the Air Force personnel system.

“We’ve definitely had some mixed-up assignments because of our similar names and backgrounds,” Hart said. “We are the same rank, have the same undergrad and grad degree and also have similar international experience. AFPC is just going to mix you up. But overall, we’ve been fortunate to have assignments that are geographically close, which allows us to stay connected easily.”

Despite sharing similar career aspirations, Hart and Holden possess distinct yet complementary traits. Hart describes his brother as logical and ambitious, while Holden lauds Hart’s resourcefulness and intelligence. Their shared love for the outdoors and adventurous pursuits further strengthens their bond.

Throughout their time at AFIT, the brothers forged meaningful connections with peers and faculty, highlighting the program’s emphasis on mentorship and interdisciplinary collaboration. Hart underscores the importance of self-discipline and proactive engagement with faculty, while Holden encourages incoming students to cultivate relationships with their peers.

One of the biggest benefits the brothers found at AFIT was the opportunity to build a network of friends and colleagues from various career fields within the Air Force. They also highlighted the value of the one-on-one mentorship they received from the program’s faculty.

The direct mentorship you get at AFIT, especially as a young officer, is invaluable. You have the opportunity to learn from highly knowledgeable lieutenant colonels who are experts in your field.
First Lt. Hart Holt

“The direct mentorship you get at AFIT, especially as a young officer, is invaluable,” Hart said. “You have the opportunity to learn from highly knowledgeable lieutenant colonels who are experts in your field.”

Following graduation, both brothers will remain at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. Holden will be assigned as executive officer at the Acquisition Excellence and Program Execution Directorate, while Hart embarks on a new challenge in foreign military sales.

Looking toward the future, both brothers expressed their desire to continue learning and growing in their careers. Hart aspires to advance in the field of innovative technologies, working with AFWERX or Defense Innovation Unit, while Holden is interested in rapid capabilities, international acquisitions or innovation management.

"I really enjoyed my research topic and I think it would be interesting to actually apply the knowledge in the real world one day," Holden said.

As they embark on their next assignments, the Holt brothers offer valuable advice for future AFIT students. They emphasize the importance of self-discipline, actively seeking knowledge from faculty and advisers, and building strong connections with classmates.

“Make sure you’re in constant communication with your adviser and professors very early on,” Hart advises. “It will help you become familiar with the program and what the expectations are.”

The journey of the Holt brothers is a testament to the power of shared goals, perseverance and the exceptional learning environment offered by AFIT. As they graduate and embark on their next chapters, they leave behind a legacy of academic achievement, camaraderie and shared passion for serving their country.