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-Jennifer DiCarlo, U.S. Air Force

Colorado School of Mines
Ph.D., Operations Research

Just 11 days after graduating from high school, Jennifer left home to attend the Air Force Academy. She graduated in May 2001 with a double major in Aeronautical and Astronautical Engineering. No one could have foreseen that the world she commissioned into would so drastically change just a few months later. Jennifer’s first assignment was to attend graduate school, completing a Master’s in Aerospace Engineering at MIT in June 2003. She always enjoyed school and learning, but after watching the war news for two years she was eager to begin pilot training and finally serve overseas.

After completing pilot training, Jennifer was assigned to fly the B-1 Bomber. She flew her first combat mission over Afghanistan in January 2008. Over the next several years she would fly 142 combat missions in support of Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom, amassing over 800 combat hours in the B-1 and the MC-12. Shortly after her third deployment, Jennifer was medically retired with 14 years and 7 months of active duty service.

With her military career unexpectedly cut short, Jennifer decided to go back to school to pursue a Ph.D. in Operations Research. During her time in the military, Jennifer experienced operations research being used very successfully in the war effort and the subject fascinated her. She had frequently dreamed of being a teacher, often tutoring others or helping them learn during her time in the service. Jennifer hopes to give back by teaching as a professor upon completion of her doctorate.