Institute celebrates 100 years of defense-focused education

  • Published
  • By Kimberly Gaither

The Air Force Institute of Technology kicked off its centennial anniversary celebration March 5 at the Sinclair Ponitz Conference Center in Dayton, highlighting the institute’s rich journey since its beginning Nov. 10, 1919.

Chief Scientist of the United States Air Force Dr. Richard J. Joseph was the keynote speaker for the celebration, which had as its theme: “A Century of Education Excellence: Inspiration to Innovation.” Joseph spoke about AFIT’s longevity and how the future depends on an educated Air Force.

“This is quite an accomplishment, and very few institutions, especially in our military, have been around this long,” said Joseph. “Our future folks will need to be a well-educated force.”

AFIT, originally the Air School of Application, was established Nov. 10, 1919, at McCook Field in Dayton after U.S. Army Colonel Thurman Bane received approval from the War department.

Dr. Todd Stewart, AFIT director and chancellor, explained why AFIT was and still is a key component in helping to develop students and how students then play a major role by using the latest technologies.

“We develop new technologies, but if our people aren’t schooled to understand or operate them, then the utility of those capabilities won’t be realized,” said Stewart. Whether it’s communications or weapons, we at AFIT are in the business of schooling Airmen, military and civilian, to do that work, but also to manage it, to use it and to employ it over the life cycle of that technology.”

Although AFIT offers distance learning courses, the focus on developing strategies along with technologies remains steadfast with every location and class.

“We not only have to teach our folks about the technologies but strategies for employment for deterrence and for creative effects,” said Stewart.

Working in conjunction with other organizations – the Air Force Life Cycle Management Center, Air Force Research Laboratory and National Air and Space Intelligence Center – AFIT maintains a competitive advantage in educating all of its students. The goal is to continue to be a force multiplier through education and the capability of students.

“It is very important to have the synergy we need to maintain our competitive advantage from a warfighting point-of-view,” said Stewart. “AFIT’s role is to school all those folks so they can more effectively do their job.”

Not only for the current career of the student, but AFIT wants students to continue to innovative.

“We want to try to develop in our students a passion for lifelong learning and a significant distrust for the way things have always been done,” said Stewart.

Stewart reemphasized the notion to be able to think in that way is vitally important.

For more information about AFIT’s centennial, please visit