Colorado Springs Military Newspaper Group

Peterson Space Observer

First AFSPC Scholars program candidates graduate

By AFSPC Public Affairs

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. — The first two Air Force Space Command Scholars program candidates recently graduated from Carnegie Mellon University and Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

AFSPC Scholars is a command-funded scholarship program that provides a unique opportunity for one core Space Operations and one core Cyberspace officer to earn a mission-oriented master’s degree at a top-tier civilian university.

1st Lt. Keane Lucas graduated May 17, 2016 with a master’s degree in information security from Carnegie Mellon University. He attended the Information Networking Institute at the university.

1st Lt. Jonathan Schneider graduated June 3, 2016 with a master’s degree in aeronautics and astronautics from Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

“The most rewarding part of the program was getting the privilege to learn from and network with the leaders and future leaders in my field of study,” said Lucas. “I now have good friends [who] work in countless major corporations around the world whom I am confident will be successful in their work. It was a great privilege to have had this experience.”

The intent of the AFSPC Scholars program is to complement Air Force Institute of Technology programs by adding degrees from civilian universities to increase breadth of space and cyberspace capabilities for these mission domains.

“This program allows us to integrate hands-on space and cyberspace knowledge from top-tier universities to better enhance our career fields and increase our depth of knowledge,” said Brig. Gen. Stephen Whiting, AFSPC Director of Integrated Air, Space, Cyberspace and Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Operations. “The partnerships we create with universities will help us develop new and innovative approaches that will allow us to excel in our rapidly changing environments.”

The program also provides valuable insight into civilian sector space and cyber perspectives.

“My role as a Cyberspace Warfare Officer can only be helped by the level of technical expertise CMU and the AFSPC Scholars program has given me,” said Lucas. “If there is a problem the Air Force has a hard time solving, it is possible I may know or be able to [easily] find someone who can help.”

Schneider echoes a similar opinion.

“I believe I will be more successful in my career because of the technical skills I have acquired in the context of space,” said Schneider. “I am far better prepared to work with Air Force space systems than I was two years ago. In addition, I have seen how space operations work in organizations other than the Air Force, and this perspective may be useful during my time as an officer in Space Command.”

After graduation, Lucas will complete the Undergraduate Cyberspace Training at Keesler Air Force Base, Mississippi, and then proceed to his follow-on assignment in November 2016.

Schneider will complete the Undergraduate Space Training at Vandenberg Air Force Base, California, and then proceed to his follow-on assignment at the 3rd Space Experimentation Squadron at Schriever Air Force Base, Colorado.

“I give this program my highest recommendation. It will give you a difficult yet very rewarding experience in your development as a future 13S,” said Schneider. “Space will be a topic of increasing importance in both the Air Force and society in general. This program will allow airmen to obtain a skill set that will drastically increase their knowledge on the topic of space and space systems.”

Lucas also speaks highly of the program.

“I would recommend the program to anyone who is passionate about learning and is willing to make that their mission for a couple years. In my case, I enjoy learning how to program, hack, automate, conceptualize, and play with computers,” said Lucas. “The AFSPC Scholars program gave me the opportunity to learn how to do that better than I ever thought possible.”

Interested candidates should contact their supervisors for details. Applications are due November 18, 2016. If selected for AFSPC Scholars, members will incur a three-year service commitment upon enrolling in a college program. For more information, email a2f.wf@us.af.mil.

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