Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps is a program which allows college students to pursue their college degree while being developed into leaders who will go on to fulfill the duties of the Air Force and Space Force. Upon completion of the program, you will be commissioned as a second lieutenant and can serve in a variety of careers such as aviation, cyberspace operations, space operations, developmental engineering, intelligence, special operations, medical, and over 100 more.
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 and are broken down by year level with specific required classes designed to teach and prepare cadets to become an Air Force or Space Force Officer.
Scholarships are available to prospective high school seniors; those already enrolled in college, and enlisted Airmen.
We are recognized as one of the top detachments in Air Force ROTC! Our cadets host a robust multi-domain exercise every semester, where we work with our sister services and other AFROTC cadets around the nation. Headquarters Air Force ROTC is looking to bring our innovations to the rest of the nation.
Cadet Sofia DeFelice
I finally found something that makes me excited for the future. I have a real passion.
Air Force ROTC Detachment 538 at RIT has been named the “Right of Line Medium-Size Detachment of the Year” for Academic Year 2021
This highly competitive award is the pinnacle recognition granted to an AFROTC detachment. The award considers mission accomplishment, education and training, recruiting and retention, university and public relations, and cadet accomplishments.
2021 Department of Defense ROTC and Higher Education Institution Partnership Excellence Award
This award is given nationwide each year by the Secretary of Defense to a single ROTC detachment and its host college. There are more than 400 ROTC Army, Navy, and Air Force detachments in the country. This award recognizes the detachment’s success as well as RIT’s contribution to the program.
Multi Domain Field Training Exercises
Every semester our cadets prepare a large scale training exercise which typically incorporates a ground team, cyber team, and air team. Using various facilities and equipment such as our detachment's VR Flight Simulators, the three teams use their specialties to assist work together to complete the mission.
i5 Space is a national student organization that operates in conjunction with the U.S. Space Force’s Space Training and Readiness and Command (STARCOM). Members participate in Space research, education, cybersecurity exercises, and more depending on their personal interests.
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.
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
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.
You don’t need to attend RIT to join Air Force ROTC with Detachment 538. We have crosstown agreements with many Rochester-area schools, including:
University of Rochester
Roberts Wesleyan College
St. John Fisher University
Monroe Community College
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.
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.
RIT also offers a Room and Board Grant to all AFROTC High School Scholarship recipients.
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.
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.
Cadets in their second year, prior to Field Training, may express their interest into the United States Space Force. If accepted by the Space Force they will continue in the Air Force ROTC program and commission as a United States Space Force Officer post-graduation.
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