PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. (AFNEWS) — The first course of a five-course, space certificate pilot program initiated by Air Force Space Command and the University of Colorado in Colorado Springs concludes this month for 20 space professionals.

The goal of this “first-of-its-kind” program is to increase the technical foundation of space pros and encourage them to pursue advanced academic degrees relevant to the space professional career path.

“This Systems Engineering class kicked off in January, and the 20 space professionals who attended — officers and enlisted (selected from Peterson, Schriever and Buckley Air Force Bases in Colorado and F.E. Warren AFB, Wyo.) — had very positive feedback,” said Lt. Gen. Frank G. Klotz, the AFSPC vice commander.

“The members of this initial cadre are completing a space certificate program, which they can apply to a master’s degree in space operations; systems engineering; engineering management; or business administration (with an emphasis in space),” the general said.

The results of the UCCS pilot program will determine the future of the space certificate program. This pilot program is a prototype, said Dr. William Ayen, senior instructor of information systems, College of Business, UCCS. What UCCS learns from this will be made available to other education consortium institutions to use as a model for future space professional programs.

“UCCS is fully behind this initiative,” Dr. Ayen said. “This is a significant opportunity to serve not only the community, but all other Air Force Space Command personnel around the world with an online program.”

Capt. Stephan Cummings, 21st Operational Support Squadron at Peterson AFB, is a student in the class: “Any professional education for officers and enlisted increases capability and efficiency,” he said. “This particular program focuses on work-related disciplines that have made me more productive in my job.”

The program, which is funded by AFSPC, ties directly to space acquisitions and operations, and helps improve the technical competence of the Air Force and its space professionals.

Students see benefits from the program as more than just graduate education.

“This course directly relates to my acquisitions career field,” said 1st Lt. Luke Rostowfske, of the 2nd Space Operations Squadron at Schriever AFB. “So, I consider it professional development as much as education.”

Senior Airman Jonathan Morris, with 1st SOPS, also at Schriever AFB, said he was hoping to gain an expanded understanding of space operations from a managerial or engineering standpoint. “I think this course will prompt new ideas to conduct space operations, whether it’s through developing new (concepts) or how we employ current assets to enhance space capabilities to the warfighters,” he said.

Students take one course per term through a combination of distance learning and off-duty classroom attendance. The space certificate program consists of the following courses: Systems Engineering Management; Space and Space Systems; Information and Communications Systems; Space Role in National Policy; System Lifecycle.

The program provides a foundation of space-related technical and managerial coursework, and students have a variety of technical and non-technical backgrounds. Credits earned from the program can be applied to one of four master’s degree programs available through UCCS: Master of Engineering in Space Operations; Master of Engineering in Systems Engineering; Master of Engineering in Engineering Management; Master of Business Administration (space emphasis).

Among the eligibility requirements, applicants must be part of the space professional community; must have completed at least one bachelor’s degree, but not a master’s degree; and officers must be within their first six years of service, while enlisted members must have less than 16 years of service.

For more information on courses and the pilot program, contact the Space Professional Development Office point of contact, Major Harris, at (719) 554-5173 or Tom Boland at (719) 554-7755.