Air Force ROTC

What is Air Force ROTC?

We offer a challenging in-college program to develop quality leaders for the Department of the Air Force with graduates. While commissioning as Second Lieutenants and, serving in a variety of career fields, the Air Force and Space Force have to offer including Aviation, Cyberspace Operations, Space Operations, Developmental Engineering, Intelligence, Special Operations, Medical, and over 100 more.

AFROTC cadets prepare to become officers while completing traditional degree requirements. You will improve your leadership, time-management skills, analytical skills, and physical fitness. Requirements include Leadership Laboratory, Physical Training, and Aerospace Studies Classes.

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History

Detachment 538's history begins in 1981 when it was first proposed with the help of Colonel Andrew J. Dougherty as AFROTC Operating Location 535B. Colonel Dougherty was the Executive Assistant to the President of Rochester Institute of Technology at the time, and in these early days, he was instrumental in pushing support for Air and Space power on campus. The detachment quickly began growing, gaining an Arnold Air Society Squadron in 1986, and soon Operating Location 535B became a full-fledged detachment, being renamed Detachment 538 in 1989.

The detachment saw continued growth, making a move from the Eastman Building to its current location in Lewis P Ross Hall in 2005. In 2010, Detachment 538 won the AFROTC Northeast Region High Flight Award for medium-size detachments and most recently in 2020. This award is given to the highest performing detachment in each region.

Detachment 538's Arnold Air Society squadron and Silver Wings chapter has been setting the example at the regional and national levels. Arnold Air Society has held Area Headquarters for the northeast region in 1989, 1994, 2004, 2006, 2012, and 2015. The squadron also served as the National Headquarters previously in 2014. Silver Wings, re-activated in 2013, has also seen a lot of recent success, serving as the National Headquarters in 2015, 2019 and 2021.

Today, Detachment 538 continues to strive for growth and excellence in everything that it does, commissioning some of the highest-caliber cadets in the nation. Each year, commissioners go on to serve as Pilots, Cyberspace Officers, Space Force Officers, Civil Engineers, Intelligence Officers, Maintenance Officers, Missile Officers, Combat Systems Officers and much more.

Cadre and Staff

Lt Col Jason Turner

Detachment Commander

Commission: ROTC
Education:
BS Electrical Engineering - Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
MA Military Operational Arts & Science - Air Command & Staff College

Capt Austin Fox

Operations Flight Commander

Commission: Air Force Academy
Education:
BS Business Management - US Air Force Academy

Capt Zachary Deats

Recruiting Flight Commander

Commission: Officer Candidate School
Education:
AS Military Studies - Rochester Institute of Technology
BS Applied Arts & Science - Rochester Institute of Technology

TSgt William Merkel

Personnel Manager

Education:
AS Human Resource Management - Community College of the Air Force

SSgt Martin Jerome Castro

NCOIC of Administration

Beth Polmateer

RIT Senior Staff Assistant

Curriculum

Overview

The Reserve Officer Training Corps program consists of two main phases that span a cadet's academic career. These phases are separated by Field Training, which occurs during the summer following a cadet's sophomore year. Each phase is also broken down by year level with specific required classes designed to teach and prepare cadets to become an Air Force or Space Force Officer. Cadets will receive a Minor in Military Studies and Leadership upon graduation.

Note that the above is just a guide for how the program could work out for you. There are options to complete the required material in both 3 years (by truncating the GMC sequence), or in 5 years (by expanding the POC sequence). For more information, visit afrotc.com.

AFROTC Typical Course Sequence

First Year

AERO-101
Credits 1
This course and its follow-on provide the student with an introductory survey of the United States Air Force (USAF) and the Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps (AFROTC). In the first semester, the course begins with an introduction to ROTC as well as the customs and courtesies and dress and appearance standards expected of Air Force officers. It continues with a discussion on team building, military communication skills and interpersonal communications. The organization of the Air Force and how the Air Force contributes to the accomplishment of our national security objectives is also covered. The course concludes with an overview of Air Force career opportunities and benefits. Leadership Laboratory is mandatory for AFROTC contract/pursuing cadets and complements this course by providing cadets with followership experiences.
AERO-102
Credits 1
This course covers an introduction to Air Force core values and offers the student an opportunity to learn about leadership, its principles, and its effective traits. The course demonstrates knowledge of Air Force heritage and legacy. Students are also introduced to basic oral and written communication skills. The course continues by exploring war, its basic principles, and motivation. The course concludes with an understanding of the Air Force oath of office and how human relations can affect them as an Air Force Officers. Leadership Laboratory is mandatory for AFROTC contract/pursuing cadets and complements this course by providing cadets with followership experiences.

Second Year

AERO-201
Credits 1
This course examines the development of military air and space power from the first balloons to the on-going conflicts in Afghanistan and other parts of the world, introduces fundamental principles associated with war in the third dimension, and employs historical examples to explain the evolution of U.S. Air Force air and space power. The full course covers two academic terms. This term focuses on examples from the earliest days of flight through the Cuban Missile Crisis. This course also seeks to develop students’ communication skills through class participation, short writing and briefing assignments. AFROTC Leadership Laboratory (WMIL-006) and AFROTC Physical Training (WMIL-001) complements this course by providing applied followership and leadership experience and is mandatory for all AFROTC cadets. Other interested undergraduate students (non-cadets) will be considered for registration but must have the detachment commander’s approval for this course and any required co-requisites (if desired).
AERO-202
Credits 1
This course examines the development of military air and space power from the first balloons to the on-going conflicts in Afghanistan and other parts of the world, introduces fundamental principles associated with war in the third dimension, and employs historical examples to explain the evolution of U.S. Air Force air and space power. The full course covers two academic terms. This term focuses on examples from the Vietnam War to the “Global War on Terror.” This course also seeks to develop students’ communication skills through class participation, short writing and briefing assignments AFROTC Leadership Laboratory (WMIL-006) and AFROTC Physical Training (WMIL-001) complements this course by providing applied followership and leadership experience and is mandatory for all AFROTC cadets. Other interested undergraduate students (non-cadets) will be considered for registration but must have the detachment commander’s approval for this course and any required co-requisites (if desired).

Third Year

MGMT-300
Credits 3
Air Force Management and Leadership (AS 300) courses emphasize the concepts and skills required of the successful young officer, manager and leader. The first course includes applied written and oral communication techniques, coordination, and history of management theory, analytic methods of decision making, strategic and tactical planning, various leadership theories and followership. The second course stresses organizing, staffing, controlling, counseling, human motivation and group dynamics, ethics, managerial power and politics, managing change, career development, and performance appraisal. Actual Air Force case studies are used to enhance the learning process. *Note: This course is restricted to AF ROTC Students.
MGMT-301
Credits 3
Integrated management and leadership courses emphasize the concepts and skills required of the successful young officer, manager, and leader. The first course includes applied written and oral communication techniques, coordination, history of management theory, analytic methods of decision-making, strategic and tactical planning various leadership theories, and followership. The second course stresses organizing, staffing, controlling, counseling, human motivation and group dynamics, ethics, managerial power and politics, managing change, career development, and performance appraisal. Actual Air Force case studies are used to enhance the learning process. *Note This course is restricted to AF ROTC Students.

Fourth Year

AERO-401
Credits 3
This course examines national security policy and process, regional issues, advanced leadership, air and space power functions and competencies. It is the first in a two-course sequence during which you will study roles of the military in society; military justice and law; current issues affecting the military profession; and regional cultural, politics and history. You will also study air and space power functions and competencies and the responsibilities of officership. Finally, this course also seeks to develop students’ communication skills through class participation, short writing and briefing assignments. AFROTC Leadership Laboratory (WMIL-006) and AFROTC Physical Training (WMIL-001) complements this course by providing applied followership and leadership experience and is mandatory for all AFROTC cadets. Other interested undergraduate students (non-cadets) will be considered for registration but must have the detachment commander’s approval for this course and any required co-requisites (if desired).
AERO-402
Credits 3
This course examines national security policy and process, regional issues, advanced leadership, air and space power functions and competencies. It is the second in a two-course sequence during which you will study roles of the military in society; military justice and law; current issues affecting the military profession; and regional cultural, politics and history. You will also study air and space power functions and competencies and the responsibilities of officership. Finally, this course also seeks to develop students’ communication skills through class participation, short writing and briefing assignments. AFROTC Leadership Laboratory (WMIL-006) and AFROTC Physical Training (WMIL-001) complements this course by providing applied followership and leadership experience and is mandatory for all AFROTC cadets. Other interested undergraduate students (non-cadets) will be considered for registration but must have the detachment commander’s approval for this course and any required co-requisites (if desired).

Additional Courses

WMIL-001
Credits 0
This course is designed to help the individual establish a physical readiness program. "Physical Readiness" are those factors that determine one's ability to perform heavy, physical work and those that help maintain good health and appearance. Factors/components of readiness: muscular strength, muscular endurance and cardio-respiratory endurance. Major goals of the course: To physically challenge students and help students develop self-confidence, discipline and spirit. Students will work to develop physical readiness to a degree that will enable them to achieve or exceed the physical readiness standard established by the U.S. Air Force. *Note: Must be enrolled in RIT ROTC Air Force.*
WMIL-006
Credits 0
This ROTC course is an Air Force Leadership Lab. Formerly Air Force Physical Training II, this revised course is designed to provide the students with a foundational understanding of the benefits, privileges and opportunities as well as responsibilities associated with an Air Force commission. Students will also be introduced to Air Force customs, courtesies, environment, drill, flight movement and ceremonies. *Note: Must be enrolled in the RIT ROTC Air Force Program.*

Field Training

Field Training is a required training exercise taking place between a cadet’s sophomore (GMC) and junior (POC) years. It is required to enter the Professional Officer Course, and give the opportunity to develop skills as a leader and team member. The training includes physical conditioning, marksmanship training, survival training, Air Force specialty orientation, confidence courses, aircraft orientation, human relations, drill and ceremonies, leadership study, and group and expeditionary leadership activities.

Extracurricular

Arnold Air Society

Arnold Air Society is a professional, honorary service organization advocating the support of aerospace power. It is a national organization of cadets, from various ROTC detachments. The squadron at Rochester Institute of Technology, founded in 1986, is named after Colonel Andrew J Dougherty who was instrumental in the creation of Detachment 538. This squadron has a great legacy, and continually looks to further it through exemplary community service, fundraising, and social events

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Silver Wings

Silver Wings is a national, professional organization dedicated to creating proactive, knowledgeable, and effective civic leaders through community service and education about national defense. It is made up largely of civilians interested in personal development, leadership, service, and support of our military personnel.

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Color Guard

Color Guard is a special team that participates in events that represent that Detachment, the Air Force or the United States of America. Color Guard participants display flags and stand in between two guards with rifles while marching. They participate in parades, present colors at ceremonies and even perform POW/MIA tributes.

Request a Color Guard

Host and Affiliated Schools

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University of Rochester logo
Suny Brockport logo
Nazareth logo
Roberts Wesleyan logo
Geneseo logo
St. John Fisher logo
Genesee logo
FLCC logo
MCC logo
Keuka College logo.
Empire State College logo.

Scholarship Opportunities

Scholarships are available to prospective high school seniors; those already enrolled in college, and enlisted Airmen. Please visit https://www.afrotc.com/scholarships/ for more information.

RIT Room and Board Grant
RIT offers a Room and Board Grant to all AFROTC High School Scholarship recipients.

High School Scholarships
All High School Scholarship recipients will receive a monthly living expense stipend and an annual book stipend.

Type 1 - Pays full (100 percent) college tuition and authorized fees at any public or private institution supported by an Air Force ROTC detachment.

Type 2 - Pays up to $18,000 per year in college tuition at any public or private institution with an Air Force ROTC detachment. Scholarship payment is further capped at up to $9,000 per semester or up to $6,000 per quarter.

Type 7 - Pays full (100 percent) college tuition and authorized fees (capped at the in-state tuition rate) at a public institution with an Air Force ROTC detachment. Students offered a Type 7 scholarship will be given the option to convert their scholarship to a three-year Type 2 scholarship that can be used at out-of-state or private schools. A three-year Type 2 scholarship will start during the sophomore year of school.

In College Scholarship Program (ICSP)
If you’re already in college, you can still experience the benefits of joining Air Force ROTC. In addition to detachment-specific scholarship opportunities, freshman and sophomore students may be eligible for the In-College Scholarship Program (ICSP). The program awards scholarships based on merit during two selection phases (fall and spring semesters). 

Frequently Asked Questions

Call or e-mail to get in contact with a cadre member:
afrotc@rit.edu
585-475-5197

No, any major may participate in AFROTC.  However, certain career fields (engineering, medical, weather, etc.) require a specialized technical degree to be eligible.

Cadets will be required to pass an Air Force Fitness Assessment prior to attending Field Training, or activating a scholarship. The fitness test consists of 1.5 mile run, 1 minute of Push-ups, and 1 minute of crunches.

  • High School Scholarship Pays full (100 percent) college tuition and authorized fees at any public or private institution with an Air Force ROTC detachment.
  • All High School Scholarship recipients will receive a monthly living expense stipend and an annual book stipend.
  • Type 1 selectees receive full (100 percent) college tuition and authorized fees at any public or private institution supported by an Air Force ROTC detachment.
  • Type 2 pays up to $18,000 per year in college tuition at any public or private institution with an Air Force ROTC detachment. Scholarship payment is further capped at up to $9,000 per semester or up to $6,000 per quarter. 
  • In College Scholarship Program (ICSP) If you’re already in college, you can still experience the benefits of joining Air Force ROTC. In addition to detachment-specific scholarship opportunities, freshman and sophomore students may be eligible for the In-College Scholarship Program (ICSP). The program awards scholarships based on merit during two selection phases (fall and spring semesters). 
  • RIT Room and Board Grant. RIT also offers a Room and Board Grant to all AFROTC High School Scholarship recipients.

No, scholarship students begin incurring a service commitment at the beginning of their second year. Non-scholarship students incur a service commitment upon completion of Field Training.  Graduates will serve a 4-year Active Duty service commitment and a 4-year Inactive Reserve commitment. Certain career fields (pilot, navigator, legal etc.) may incur additional service commitments.

Students do not have to attend RIT to participate. Detachment 538 has agreements with 14 local colleges to support the success of the cadets. Cadets are not limited to these schools either, but would be required to commute to RIT for ROTC activities.

Helpful Links

Air Force
Space Force
Air Force Recruiting
Holm Center
Air Force ROTC
Air Force Compliance

The appearance of hyperlinks does not constitute endorsement by the Department of the Air Force of non-U.S. Government sites or the information, products, or services contained therein. Although the Department of the Air Force may or may not use these sites as additional distribution channels for Department of Defense information, it does not exercise editorial control over all of the information that you may find at these locations. Such hyperlinks are provided consistent with the stated purpose of this website.

The Air Force ROTC Detachment 538 Website is provided as a public service by Rochester Institute of Technology and the Department of the Air Force. Information presented on this service, not identified as protected by copyright, is considered public information and may be distributed or copied. Use of appropriate byline, photo, and image credits is requested. Unauthorized attempts to upload information or change information on this site are strictly prohibited and may be punishable under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act of 1987 and the National Information Infrastructure Protection Act (Section 1030 of Title 18, United States Code). If you have any questions or comments about the information presented here, please forward them to afrotc@rit.edu.