AFIT faculty member receives 2023 Outstanding Scientist and Engineer Educator of the Year Award

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

WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio -- Air Force Institute of Technology faculty member Dr. Brian Lunday received the 2023 Outstanding Scientist and Engineer Educator of the Year Award. This award recognizes the efforts and achievements of the top Air Force instructor in science and engineering fields whose contributions and performance best characterize the principles of excellence in science and engineering education.

During the evaluation period, Lunday taught five graduate-level courses in theoretical and applied optimization, network modeling and game theory to 33 students. He exceeded faculty workload expectations voluntarily and achieved an impressive average student evaluation score of 4.75 out of 5.00 average for his quality of instruction. In addition to his teaching duties, Lunday mentored an assistant professor teaching a second course section and provided teaching observation and feedback to another assistant professor.

Lunday also excelled in advising faculty-led, student-driven thesis and dissertation research. At the close of the award period, he had successfully guided three operations research master’s students to graduation and was advising two additional OR master’s students, one data science master’s student and three OR doctoral students. Two of the doctoral students have since graduated and the research of one graduated master’s student was recognized with the 2024 Barchi Prize by the Military and Operations Research Society. He also served on the committee for one OR master’s student and three doctoral students who graduated. Additionally, he served on the committee for seven doctoral students with three graduating in September 2023.

Lunday's dedication to curriculum development is evident in his redesign of core courses for both the master’s and doctoral OR programs, as well as two elective courses, to integrate Python for mathematical modeling. This shift from traditional education-focused software to industry-standard programming ensures that AFIT graduates are well-prepared for future assignments.

He created and implemented three tutorials and accompanying lessons for the core master’s in OR course, introducing students to various modeling methods, debugging tools and data management constructs within Python/Pyomo. Additionally, he reconfigured the doctoral course project to leverage these skills and enhance computing capabilities. Lunday also developed and taught an elective course during the operational deployment of the normally assigned instructor.

Lunday led and advised impactful student research, including master’s student research on hybrid manned/unmanned aerial vehicle refueling, which informed a significant $250M funding decision for blended wing body development by the Secretary of the Air Force. He also advised doctoral student research on network vulnerability identification for the Surface Deployment and Distribution Command and is currently advising master’s student research on evaluating unmanned cargo UAV platforms for the Air Mobility Command.

Lunday has demonstrated his research expertise as the sole principal investigator for $125K of funded research supporting the United States Transportation Command and as a co-PI for $190k for the Strategic Development Planning and Experimentation Office. He also developed a five-year, $1M research proposal for which he is the sole PI.

He co-authored five peer-reviewed journal publications, four of which were published in top journals. He has 11 more co-authored articles under review and four manuscripts in preparation.

Lunday first joined the AFIT faculty in 2013 as an assistant professor while serving as an active-duty Army officer. After 24 years of service in various leadership, combat engineering, military planning and educational roles, he transitioned to a civilian faculty position in 2016 and was awarded tenure the following year.

His research focuses on theoretical developments in mathematical programming, game theoretic models and algorithmic design for global optimization, with applications in network design, optimization, interdiction, and restoration, facility/resource location and resource allocation, location and assignment. 

Lunday holds a Bachelor of Science degree in mechanical engineering (aerospace systems) from the United States Military Academy, Master of Science in industrial engineering from University of Arizona and a doctorate in Industrial and Systems Engineering from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University.