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Air Force Print News (March 13, 2007): AFIT offers distance learning degree program.

WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio -- The Air Force Institute of Technology recently achieved two milestones that will help the school move forward into the 21 st century and serve the Air Force with greater responsiveness.

This month, AFIT began offering its first distance learning graduate degree program. AFIT has been using DL technologies to offer graduate certificate programs as well as professional continuing education for some time. But with this pilot program in Systems Engineering, it is now possible for military members, DoD civilians, and government contractors across the country to earn a master's degree from AFIT without moving to Ohio or leaving their current assignments.

"Students interested in getting a master's degree in Systems Engineering can do so in any number of ways," said Dr. David Jacques, the curriculum chair for AFIT's Systems Engineering Program. "What makes our program so unique is that it is geared toward the DoD employee. Our faculty uses its extensive military background to create a defense-centered educational experience."

"During their research, our students are encouraged to tackle real-world systems problems found in their workplace," said George Mooney, director of AFIT's Center for Systems Engineering. "That way, students can make strides toward obtaining their master's degree while helping the Air Force--more specifically, while helping the student's own organization or company."

"Students who enroll in our master's program may get transferred to another assignment, but they can still keep working on their degree," said Lt. Col. Brian Hermann, an AFIT DL instructor. "I think that's a huge benefit for the military student."

The second AFIT milestone was the recent opening of the graduate school's brand-new DL studio suite. After an interior construction and renovation project, the school installed new equipment in the studio suite to facilitate an expanding distance learning outreach.

"Our goal was to create a flexible toolbox that faculty members could use to create streamable content, as well as interact in real-time with the distance learning student," said John Reisner, director of AFIT's Office of Extension Services. Previously, the school relied on video-teleconferences to deliver educational content to the remote student.

"We wanted to use technologies that were more versatile and more scalable without sacrificing quality," said Dr. Marlin Thomas, dean of AFIT's Graduate School of Engineering and Management. "Our new studios have empowered the faculty to do that."

With a newly hired staff, the Graduate School's Extension Services office is poised to help the school realize its goal of becoming an increasingly important educational resource for agencies and organizations across the Air Force and DoD. In January 2007, AFIT's Center for Space Studies and Research began offering the Graduate School's second certificate program fully available online: the Graduate Space Systems Certificate. This recent growth of DL educational opportunities has meant a spike in the numbers of students taking advantage of these programs, and the school is optimistic that this is only the beginning.

Prospective students interested in learning more about DL programs offered by AFIT's Graduate School of Engineering and Management can visit AFIT's Office of Extension Services' Web site at <>.
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Title Annotation:Career Development
Publication:Defense AT & L
Date:Jul 1, 2007
Previous Article:Defense acquisition career opportunities.
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