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Lieutenant Colonel Michael Anderson

Deputy Department Head, Associate Professor of Engineering Mechanics

Department of Engineering Mechanics

Michael Anderson
Contact Information

(719) 333-4048



Lt Col Mike Anderson is the Deputy Department Head of the Department of Engineering Mechanics, and an Associate Professor of Engineering Mechanics, US Air Force Academy. Lt Col Anderson earned his PhD in Aeronautical Engineering from the Air Force Institute of Technology in 2011 where he performed pioneering research in the design and control of flapping wing Micro Air Vehicles (MAVs). From 2011-2014 he served in the Air Force Research Laboratory's Munitions Directorate (AFRL/RW) where he led research in GPS-denied navigation for multi-agent autonomous systems. Earlier in his career, Lt Col Anderson served as an F-16 flight control actuation systems engineer at Hill Air Force Base, Utah.

Lt Col Anderson is a registered Professional Engineer and an Associate Fellow of the American Institute for Aeronautics and Astronautics, where he serves on their Unmanned Systems Integration Committee. His research at the Academy focuses on terrestrial and aerial robotics, innovative design methodologies, engineering pedagogy, sports science and sports technology. He has been researching autonomous systems for over a decade, authoring several papers relevant to the field including design of terrestrial and aerial robots, energy efficiency and perching for small UAS, and flight control of Micro Air Vehicles (MAV).

Lt Col Anderson has served as a member of the USAFA Faculty from January of 2005 to August of 2008, being promoted to Assistant Professor in 2007. He rejoined the Faculty in May of 2014, where he continues to serve. He was promoted to Associate Professor in the Spring of 2016. He has taught the following courses:

Engr Mech 220 – Statics and Strength of Materials
Engr Mech 320 – Dynamics
Engr Mech 305 – Engineering Tools Seminar
Mech Engr 325 – System Dynamics
Mech Engr 370 – Machine Component Design
Mech Engr 396 – Mechatronics
Mech Engr 491 – Senior Capstone Design I
Mech Engr 492 – Senior Capstone Desgign II
Sys Engr 491 – Senior Capstone Design I
Sys Engr 492 – Senior Capstone Desgign II
Mech Engr 499 – Independent Study

Led the execution of the academy’s Mechanical Engineering major, including 29 courses affecting 2,200 cadets & 40 faculty members. Led 50+ engineers executing novel R&D programs, totaling over $30M, in aircraft sustainment, autonomous systems and advanced weapon design. Advocated for 700+ faculty/staff USAFA Faculty Senate Executive Board member. Directed curriculum & assessment for 200+ faculty as base-wide Outcome Team Lead.

Led USAF’s premier research center for aging aircraft sustainment; totaling $32M in vital warfighter support. Tackled countless vexing sustainment issues for C/KC-135, C-130, T-38, A-10, P-3 & more. Led source selection for $100M, 5-year support contract. Instructed advanced courses in Mechatronics, System Dynamics and Engineering Design.

Led & developed Directorate's 510-mbr Scientist & Engineer workforce in the conception & transition of warfighting capabilities – initiated leadership coaching, innovation training & internships. Set science & technology priorities for Directorate's 6-yr/$900M R&D portfolio.

Led 50 expert scientists & engineers developing munitions technology for the USAF. Managed $12M division budget, wrote appraisals, awards, and funding proposals. Championed the plan for AFRL’s top R&D priority; the $5B “DoD Weapons Science and Technology Enterprise.” Advocated for weapons R&D to higher headquarters and prevented $232M budget reduction.

Led 8 member deployed team managing high-stakes $2.6B program. Executed combat operations and maintenance plans for 7 aircraft providing 24/7 datalinks to warfighters. Facilitated 605 combat sorties supporting 1637 troops in contact situations and 2805 priority targeting missions. Enabled 33% increase in command and control capability and 25% faster kill chain timeline.

Led AFRL-wide enterprise encompassing $30M of research and 57 scientists & engineers developing agile tactical ISR and precision effects for warfighters. Coordinated with stakeholders across DoD, NASA, academia and international partners on small Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPA) R&D. Attracted $2.5M in funding to AFRL to develop new capabilities for RPAs.

Developed and demonstrated first-ever method for flight control of flapping wing MAVs. Published PhD Dissertation: Design and Control of Flapping Wing MAVs.

Directed operations of bustling $20M mechanics lab supporting 16 courses, 1550 cadets, design teams and Center for Aircraft Structural Life Extension. Lab rated “Outstanding” during Unit Compliance Inspection, recognized as “Superior Performer.” Wrote OPRs/EPRs/Appraisals and numerous award-winning quarterly and annual Award packages for lab staff. Designed and implemented new manufacturing course and led cadet teams in published RPA research.

Taught hundreds of cadets in rigorous engineering courses in Statics & Strength of Materials, Dynamics, Engineering Design, Controls and Mechatronics. Course-directed foundational Dynamics course servicing four departments. Mentored three senior capstone design teams. Led department hiring process for 29 faculty positions, ensuring 100% staffing.

Published Master’s Thesis: Design of a Trotting Quadruped Robot. Developed revolutionary robotics technology for DoD; added capability and reduced warfighter risk.

Led team of engineers, PMs and technicians sustaining critical flight control actuators for 3200+ F-16’s worldwide. Led education & training of Aircraft Battle Damage Repair engineers for global deployments to sustain combat aircraft during Global War on Terror. Led the design and development of the first-ever F-16 Logistics Operations Division Engineer Training Manual.


PhD, Aeronautical Engineering, Air Force Institute of Technology, Ohio

Master of Science, Mechanical Engineering, University of Utah

Bachelor of Science, Mechanical Engineering AND Engineering Sciences (Mathematics Minor)(Distinguished Graduate), U.S. Air Force Academy, Colorado

Professional Experience

Deputy Department Head & Associate Professor, Department of Engineering Mechanics, U.S. Air Force Academy, Colorado (2015–present)

Deputy Director, Center for Aircraft Structural Life Extension (CAStLE) & Assistant Professor of Engineering Mechanics, U.S. Air Force Academy, (2014-2015)

Military Assistant to the Chief Scientist, Munitions Directorate, Air Force Research Laboratory, Eglin AFB, Florida (2014)

Deputy Division Chief, Strategic Planning and Integration Division, Munitions Directorate, AFRL, Eglin AFB, Florida (2012–2013)

Program Manager, Battlefield Airborne Communications Node (BACN) Joint Urgent Operational Need (JUON), Afghanistan (2012-2013)

Program Manager, AFRL Micro Air Vehicle (MAV) Program, Eglin, AFB, Florida (2011-2012)

Graduate Student, Air Force Institute of Technology, Ohio (2008-2011)

Director, Applied Mechanics Laboratory and Assistant Professor, Department of Engineering Mechanics, U.S. Air Force Academy, Colorado (2006-2008)

Instructor of Engineering Mechanics, Dept of Engineering Mechanics, U.S. Air Force Academy, Colorado (2004-2006)

Graduate Student, Dept of Mechanical Engineering, Univ of Utah, (2003-2004)

Lead F-16 Actuation Systems Engineer, Hill AFB, Utah (1999-2003)

Honors & Awards

U.S. Air Force Academy McDermott Award for Technology Transfer (2018)

Outstanding Academy Educator, Department of Engineering Mechanics (2017)

Outstanding Contributor Award, Department of Engineering Mechanics (2015)

Air Force Research Laboratory Annual Leadership Award (2013)

Field Grade Officer of the Year, Munitions Directorate (2013)

Field Grade Officer of the Year, Air Force Research Laboratory (2012)

Best Atmospheric Flight Mechanics Paper, AIAA Aerospace Sciences Mtg (2011)

Finalist, Graduate Student Paper Competition, AIAA Guidance Navigation & Control Conf (2011)

Company Grade Officer of the Quarter, U.S. Air Force Academy Dean of the Faculty (2008)

Company Grade Officer of the Quarter, U.S. Air Force Academy (2007)


Anderson, M.L., “Force-Sensing Hangboard to Enhance Finger Training in Rock Climbers,” Procedia Engineering, 2018. – Accepted for Publication

Anderson, M.L., Anderson, M., and Sanders, A., “An innovative hangboard design to improve finger strength in rock climbers,” Procedia Engineering, 147: p. 269-274, 2016.

Anderson, Michael L., and Anderson Mark, “A novel tool and training methodology for improving finger strength in rock climbers,” Procedia Engineering, 112: p. 491 – 496, 2015.

Anderson, Michael, L., and Cobb, R.G., “Implementation of a Flapping Wing Micro Air Vehicle Control Technique,” Journal of Guidance, Control, and Dynamics, 2014.

Anderson, Michael, L., and Cobb, R.G., “Towards Flapping Wing Control of Micro Air Vehicles,” Journal of Guidance, Control, and Dynamics, 2012.

Anderson, Michael, L. and Anderson, Mark, The Rock Climber’s Training Manual, Fixed Pin Publishing, Denver, CO, 2014.

Anderson, Michael, L. and Anderson, Mark, The Rock Climber’s Training Manual Three Season Logbook, Fixed Pin Publishing, Denver, CO, 2014.