AFIT leader receives SECDEF Medal for Exceptional Civilian Service

Dr. Darryl Ahner, dean for research within the Air Force Institute of Technology’s Graduate School of Engineering and Management, was re-presented the Secretary of Defense Medal for Exceptional Civilian Service by Dr. Walter Jones, AFIT director and chancellor. Ahner received the award for his leadership, commitment and professional expertise as the director of AFIT’s Scientific Test and Analysis Techniques Center of Excellence.  U.S. AIR FORCE PHOTO/KATIE SCOTT

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Dr. Darryl Ahner, dean for research within the Air Force Institute of Technology’s Graduate School of Engineering and Management, was re-presented the Secretary of Defense Medal for Exceptional Civilian Service by Dr. Walter Jones, AFIT director and chancellor. Ahner received the award for his leadership, commitment and professional expertise as the director of AFIT’s Scientific Test and Analysis Techniques Center of Excellence. U.S. AIR FORCE PHOTO/KATIE SCOTT

Dr. Darryl Ahner, dean for research within the Air Force Institute of Technology’s Graduate School of Engineering and Management, received the Office of the Secretary of Defense Medal for Exceptional Civilian Service for his leadership, commitment, and professional expertise as the director of AFIT’s Scientific Test and Analysis Techniques Center of Excellence.

The Office of the Secretary of Defense Medal for Exceptional Civilian Service is the OSD’s highest-level career medaled award.

The STAT COE consists of an interdisciplinary group of test and evaluation professionals dedicated to improving the planning, execution, and assessment of test and evaluation methodologies. Ahner served as the director of the STAT COE from its inception in 2012 until his promotion to dean for research in 2021.

He was presented with the award virtually by Christopher Collins, SES, director of Developmental Test, Evaluation, and Assessments within the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering.

Ahner was recognized for creating and leading a center of 45 highly educated experts dedicated to modernizing the Department of Defense’s culture of test and evaluation. His efforts culminated in managing a $17 million yearly budget and enabling defense and homeland security test and evaluation interests across nine lines of effort supporting the objectives of the 2018 National Defense Strategy.

He created and consistently applied a unique-systems engineering and test hybrid process that improved rigor and effectiveness for 65 major defense acquisition programs, generating more than $204 million in cost savings.

“While this is an individual award, I share it with the great professionals within the STAT COE and the office of Developmental Test, Evaluation, and Assessments,” said Ahner. “It is a testament to surrounding yourself with great professionals and staying out of their way.”

A registered professional engineer and professor of operations research, Ahner has written over 70 technical articles, made over 100 technical presentations, and has led several technical working groups. He is an active member of the Military Operations Research Society, Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences, International Test and Evaluation Association, and the American Society for Engineering Education.

Ahner joined AFIT’s Graduate School of Engineering and Management faculty in 2010 culminating a 22 year Army career. His awards and honors include being a 2017 Affiliate Society Council of Dayton Outstanding Engineers and Scientists Awardee and recent service on the technical committee for the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine, Assessing the Physical and Technical Suitability of DoD Test and Evaluation Ranges and Infrastructure study.

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