Washington, D.C. - This week, legislation introduced by U.S. Senators Rob Portman (R-Ohio) and Sherrod Brown (D-OH) to expand educational opportunities for defense industry employees was adopted as part of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), currently pending before the Senate.  Currently, defense industry employees who attend the Air Force Institute of Technology (AFIT) are limited by the types of courses and total number of students that can take advantage of this opportunity.  By broadening the existing statute to enable defense industry employees to attend these institutions to obtain not only master’s degrees but also professional continuing education (PCE) certifications and increase the number of defense industry students that can take these courses, this legislation will enable more employees to benefit from advanced education and further utilize these premier educational institutions.

“The outstanding educational services that AFIT has to offer have trained servicemen and civilians alike, enhancing skills necessary to excel in their specialized fields and augmenting their work performance.  Few places in the world can offer state-of-the-art services like Wright-Patt’s AFIT does,” Portman said.  “Having key members of the defense industry exposed to the unique courses offered at AFIT is a win-win for the government.  Industry pays a tuition that covers all costs associated with their attendance, and in the process, our defense industry partners will have greater expertise in the military application of engineering and science disciplines as well as acquisition and program management expertise.  This means better run programs and integration with missions and objectives of our military.”

“Continuing education programs—like those offered at AFIT—help ensure that our Air Force has the best scientists and engineers in the world,” Brown said.  “This amendment will enable the quality programs at AFIT education to be offered for defense industry employees  and help ensure that AFIT’s resources will be available for our nation’s defense professionals for years to come.”

As with the master’s degree program, the costs for the PCE certification program for defense company employees would be paid for by the defense companies.  The shorter duration and large selection of PCE certifications will open up more opportunities for this instruction.  This increased authority will not impact the ability of military and Defense Department civilians to attend AFIT.