Michigan Tech AFROTC Named Tops in the Nation

Michigan Tech's AFROTC detachment
Michigan Tech's AFROTC detachment

In school and in life, sometimes the stakes are high, and having that edge can make a difference.

Michigan Technological University’s Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps (AFROTC) detachment is giving its cadets that edge.  Michigan Tech’s AFROTC detachment has been named Team of the Year in an annual competition to determine the best AFROTC detachment in the nation.  Tech’s detachment topped 145 AFROTC detachments and more than 1,100 colleges and universities nationwide.

“Michigan Tech’s Detachment 400 AFROTC team win reflects the dedication of prior and current AFROTC faculty,” said Lieutenant Colonel Michael Brothers, commander of Tech’s AFROTC and head of the Department of Aerospace Studies. “Plus the outstanding support we’ve received within the College of Science and Arts, by senior Michigan Tech personnel, and across the entire campus and community.”

“The training [the cadets] get up here, despite the fact that we are a rather remote university compared to a lot of the other locations, is as good, if not better, than the training they would’ve received somewhere else,” Brothers said.  Michigan Tech’s detachment has worked to continuously improve, and they won’t stop, he added.

AFROTC is an in-college, officer commissioning program that adds a layer of military training to college education. The program is one of three commissioning sources for the US Air Force. After successful completion of the AFROTC program and at least a bachelor’s degree, a participating student is commissioned as a second lieutenant in the US Air Force. 

On its way to the number one spot nationally, the University’s AFROTC detachment recently was named the top detachment among 34 in the northwest region. The regional and national awards recognizes the best AFROTC detachment, based on its education program, cadet activities, university and public interactions, community service projects and cadet accomplishments. The region in which the Michigan Tech detachment competed encompasses Michigan’s Upper Peninsula all the way up to Alaska, as well as Colorado and Oklahoma.

To apply for the award, Brothers had to complete a one-page report that demonstrates how the Michigan Tech detachment fulfills all of the criteria. The judges specifically look for growth in the detachment, the success of the cadets, the average student’s GPA and how many have been selected for key follow-on assignments.

“One of the things that set Michigan Tech apart is the numerous professional development training opportunities our cadets are chosen for,” said Brothers.  An example is internships with the National Reconnaissance Office. Only 10 were awarded nationally, and two have gone to Michigan Tech cadets.  Also, there are only about two dozen spots nationally for post-graduation advanced academic degrees (MS) with the Air Force Institute of Technology, and three of them went to Michigan Tech cadets. Finally, a cadet from Michigan Tech has been selected each year as the top candidate to attend a semester at Syracuse University for cyber-specific studies. The program began two years ago, and nationwide, only five cadets have been selected to attend. 

In preparation for the award, said Brothers, “my staff, myself and all of the cadets, have tried, every semester, to take what already existed and make it that much better. This award reflects not only all the hard work of the cadets and my staff, but really of the last four to five years. The last commander started this process, and we have seen the continued improvement.”

This accomplishment helps Michigan Tech gain students who are interested in pursuing a degree at a technological university and want to join the Air Force.

The AFROTC detachment, along with Tech’s Department of Aerospace Studies, also recently earned an “excellent” rating in a Unit Compliance Inspection by a US Air Force Inspectors General team. A Unit Compliance Inspection is similar to an accreditation and occurs only once every three to four years.

The US Air Force Inspectors General team included four individuals from Maxwell Air Force base in Alabama. They spent two or more days going through all the campus AFROTC processes. The team looked at every aspect of the program: education, training of cadets, recruiting of new students, the operations flight commander position program and hands-on training.

The detachment’s “excellent” rating places it among the best AFROTC programs in the nation. Michigan Tech’s last inspection was in 2009.

Michigan Technological University is a public research university founded in 1885 in Houghton, Michigan, and is home to more than 7,000 students from 55 countries around the world. Consistently ranked among the best universities in the country for return on investment, the University offers more than 125 undergraduate and graduate degree programs in science and technology, engineering, computing, forestry, business and economics, health professions, humanities, mathematics, social sciences, and the arts. The rural campus is situated just miles from Lake Superior in Michigan's Upper Peninsula, offering year-round opportunities for outdoor adventure.