MIT Air Force ROTC Detachment Named Best in Nation

MIT Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps

The United States Air Force has selected the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps (AFROTC) Detachment 365 for the 2016 Right of Line Award. The award recognizes the Top AFROTC detachment in the Nation. Detachment 365 also received the Best in Region Award for the Northeast, having competed against detachments at Yale and Cornell Universities. The last time Detachment 365 won at the national level was in 2010. 

The award is presented to three detachments in the nation based on training, education, recruiting, and overall performance. Recipients are selected from 145 AFROTC detachments in the US competing in small, medium, and large categories.

Detachment 365’s accomplishments include achieving the highest overall grade point average of 3.545/4.0 and physical fitness scores of 97.42/100 in the nation.

“What distinguishes the Detachment from others is not just academic excellence, but the dedication and commitment the cadets have in becoming the best officers they can be, whether their experiences come from academia, research, internships, or community service,” said Captain Peterson Dela Cruz, MIT technical instructor and operations flight commander. 

The Detachment has also garnered numerous individual awards this year, including the coveted 2016 USAF Cadet of the Year award given to MIT junior Martin York, as the top cadet among AFROTC, United States Air Force Academy, and Officer Training School. MIT Junior Nicholas James received the 2016 Outstanding AFROTC Cadet as the top AFROTC cadet in the Northeast region. Kira Headrick, a senior at Harvard, was highlighted in Business Insider magazine’s article, “Twelve of the Most Impressive Students at Harvard Right Now,” for her accomplishments as a pilot-select and NASA intern. Dela Cruz was also recognized as the 2016 AFROTC Recruiting Officer of the Year.

Balance has been the key to the Detachment’s success. Students aren’t just involved in academics and ROTC; they are active in research, community service, varsity athletics, and other extracurricular activities. It’s common for students to participate in multiple programs within an academic year, such as study abroad programs to Oman, prestigious internships at SpaceX, and cutting-edge research at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.   

During MIT’s Open House in April 2016, the Detachment collaborated with the MIT Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics to coordinate the first-ever landing and display of an Air Force UH-1N helicopter on Briggs Field. The strong relationship between MIT and Air Force ROTC enables quality training and development for the future Air Force leaders. 

The Detachment has consistently received national recognition. At the end of the 2015-2016 academic year, 100 percent of the students were on AFROTC scholarship. With a 96-perecent selection rate, students compete favorably for flying career fields upon commissioning, to include pilot and navigators. 

“Our cadets come from some of the most prestigious schools in the country but humility is a big part of our cadet wing,” noted Dayannara Munoz, MIT senior and spring 2016 cadet wing commander. “We're proud of our schools and detachment, but we’re more proud of the team we’re in. When I transferred to MIT in 2014, I imagined people bragging about being from MIT or Harvard, but that wasn't the case. Our cadets tend to focus on being a team rather than boast about their individual accomplishments, which is why we work so well and accomplish so much.”

“The excellence and achievements of the Cadet Wing, recognized by this award, wouldn’t be possible without the fantastic support we receive from all the Detachment’s affiliated institutions – particularly MIT as our host institution,” said Lieutenant Colonel Sheryl “Double” Ott, commander of Detachment 365 and professor of aerospace studies.

Detachment 365 includes students from MIT, Harvard, Tufts, Wellesley, and Salem State. Graduates represent many of the nation's best and brightest in both technical and non-technical career fields. They are poised for exceptional service in the military as well as in the civilian sectors, particularly in this age of technological advancement, medical breakthroughs and intense foreign relations worldwide.