Michael A. Hyland, Lt Col, USAF
Active-Duty Officer, United Sates Air Force (USAF)
One piece of advice I’d offer to any current graduate student is, graduate school is a marathon, not a sprint, but it does take a unique balance of being humane, humble, grounded, and disciplined.
Additional degrees & licenses received
Graduate of United States Air Force’s: Squadron Officer School (2009)
Air Command and Staff College (2014)
Air War College (2018)
What is your current (or most recent) job, what does a typical day look like, and how did UConn prepare you for this role?
I am currently detailed to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), and I’m the Senior Operations Planner in the Operations Support Directorate at the Countering Weapons of Mass Destruction (CWMD) Office. I lead the Current Operations Division in translating CWMD National Security Strategy and Policy to Contingency and Operational plans to respond to Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear (CBRN) and Health threat incidents. I get to coordinate with many government agencies such as the FBI, CDC, FEMA, and of course the DoD. Prior to assuming my current position, I was the Squadron Commander for the USAF’s Radiochemistry Lab, Air Force Technical Application Center (AFTAC), Patrick Space Force Base, FL. In this assignment, my unit delivered rapid, defensible forensic data to national decision makers supporting AFTAC’s Global Nuclear Treaty monitoring mission. Although all these assignments are different, my core duty day to day is science and technology management. At this point in my career, critical thinking and leadership intertwine with academic analysis to make decisions in the best interest of the mission. I think the scientific discipline I learned in the Brückner group prepared me extremely well to thrive in my military career. Choosing UConn Chemistry and the Brückner Group are definitely in the top tier of best life decisions I have made.
Can you tell us about your experience post-graduation?
I joined the USAF after earning my MSc degree at UConn from the Brückner Group, and I’ve been an active-duty Air Force Officer 2003-Present. For my third assignment on active duty, the Air Force selected me for an Advanced Academic Degree, and I chose to return to UConn and the Brückner Group. My career in the Air Force since graduating from UConn includes various duties in Science and Technology. Such as, Airborne Warning and Control Systems Program Manager, Assistant Professor of Chemistry at the U.S. Air Force Academy, and positions within Air Force Research Labs. At the Pentagon on Air Staff, I was a Program Element Monitor for Conventional Munitions Technologies and Hypersonic Weapons Systems development. I deployed to Afghanistan (2013) in Support of Operation Enduring Freedom as a Counter Improvised Explosives Device Branch Chief and to Qatar (2016) as the Aerospace Fuels Lab Chief, in support of Operations Freedom Sentinel/Inherent Resolve.
What is one piece of advice that you would give to current students?
One piece of advice I’d offer to any current graduate student is, Graduate School is a marathon, not a sprint, but it does take a unique balance of being humane, humble, grounded, and disciplined.