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Oklahoma State University

Aviation and space doctorate helps U.S. Air Force lieutenant colonel’s career take off

Thursday, January 14, 2021

Lieutenant Colonel Omar Hamilton

Earning a doctorate in aviation and space education equips many U.S. military personnel, like U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Omar Hamilton, to take their careers to the next level.

Stationed at Joint Base Langley-Eustis in Virginia, Hamilton works in the Headquarters Air Combat Command (ACC). As chief of the Current Operations Branch, he leads eight teams totaling 40 airmen and civilians in providing troops and airplanes throughout the world, including the Middle East. As leader of the crisis response team, he also oversees aid delivery during natural disasters.

“My career has taken me all over the world flying with the E-3 Sentry, Airborne Warning and Control System,” Hamilton said. “I’ve led Airmen in every capacity on and off the jet, and serving as commander was one of the highlights of my career.” 

Hamilton’s dissertation research studied integrating Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) into the National Airspace System (NAS). When Hamilton completed his research and graduated in 2015, UAS was still emerging.

“Now that UAS is here and proliferate, it has been interesting to see what I learned during my research progress into regulations, policies and processes,” Hamilton said. “While not necessarily impacting my career, it has shaped discussions I’ve had with fellow airmen.

Hamilton also completed an internship with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) as part of the aviation and space education doctorate program, during which he analyzed U.S. historical data on aviation accidents to find commonalities in their timeframe and cause.

“The FAA programs for ensuring the standardization of flight operations and safety of flight have many similarities to ours in the Air Force,” Hamilton said. “Having the hands-on experience in the field with the FAA inspectors and being able to ask questions and receive tangible answers really sparked my ambition to complete my degree.”

That ambition, coupled with the flexibility of the fully online program, allowed Hamilton to continue his service in the U.S. Air Force while pursuing his passion to further his education.

“When continuing education, we all have a lot on our plates as active members of society and not ‘full-time students,’” Hamilton said. “OSU made it more accommodating to give me reasons to continue my education through to finish.”

The aviation and space master’s and aviation and space education doctoral programs meet demands of the private and commercial aviation and aerospace industries, government organizations and the U.S. military. Both programs are delivered fully online, providing maximum flexibility. Classes include leadership and workforce management, aerospace law, space science and aviation economics.

Reflecting on his experience pursuing a doctorate at OSU, Hamilton has one message for potential students.

“Find what drives you to complete your education, and use that to fuel you to the finish,” Hamilton said. “The accomplishment you feel when you have completed your goal is well worth fighting through anything that comes your way.”

MEDIA CONTACT: Brittany Bowman | 405-744-9347 | brittany.bowman@okstate.edu

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