Air Force Institute of Technology astronautical engineering graduate student William Gallagher shows local students interested in space an example of CubeSat hardware from the Center for Space Research and Assurance. The mission shown is scheduled to launch in 2019. (U.S. Air Force photo/Jaclyn Knapp)

Civilian grad student pursues astronautical engineering degree at AFIT

From a young age, William Gallagher dreamed about working in space. As a recently enrolled civilian graduate student within the Air Force Institute of Technology’s Center for Space Research and Assurance, his dream is now a reality.

When considering graduate schools, Gallagher, a PALACE Acquire intern from Hill Air Force Base, Utah, was interested in spacecraft and space operations. Through the PAQ program, Gallagher is able to attend Air Force-funded graduate school full-time. He chose AFIT since it was one of less than 10 schools in the nation to offer a Master of Science degree in astronautical engineering.

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“I recommend graduate or Ph.D. civilian students pursuing federal employment attend AFIT since the school has connections to agencies and departments inside and outside of the United States Air Force,” said Gallagher.

“Although I did have some concerns about being only one of 10 civilians in my class, my worries were thankfully misplaced. I feel welcomed at AFIT, thanks to both the students and faculty and look forward to beginning my thesis work in the coming months,” said Gallagher.

Civilians interested in pursuing graduate education have a “number of options, such as Civilian Development Education, PAQ and part-time work,” said Lt. Col. Kirk Johnson, Center for Space Research and Assurance deputy director.

“No matter which option, they should consider studying at AFIT. Here at CSRA, our civilian students have the opportunity to get a world-class education while doing hands-on research that meets our most urgent national-security needs in the space domain,” said Johnson.

Located at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, AFIT is the Air Force’s graduate school of engineering and management as well as its institution for technical professional continuing education. AFIT is committed to providing defense-focused graduate and professional continuing education and research to sustain the technological supremacy of America’s air, space and cyber forces.

For additional information about graduate degrees in space, engineering or management, or to learn more about the CSRA, visit, call 937-255-6565 ext. 4753, or email

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