J.T. Sink: Future Flight Plans: Study What You Love

Graduate Certificate, International Security

J.T. Sink is a business development manager in Boeing's Advanced Systems division, where he is "responsible for matching our technologies with customer needs." Prior to Boeing, Sink commanded a squadron of airmen and led 21 combat missions during Gulf War I, for which he was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross. During operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom, his staff division planned and managed the Air Force's deployment of aircraft, personnel, and equipment across the Pacific. He completed his military career as the chief of the Operations Plans Division at Pacific Air Forces, retiring with the rank of colonel in 2003.

"The information age has magnified the importance of an integrated education. Being able to understand the interrelation of different fields such as technology, sociology, and psychology is hugely important with the complex problems facing us."

  • Strategic Development Manager, Boeing
  • Graduate Certificate in International Security, Stanford University
  • MA, School of Advanced Airpower Studies
  • MS, Aeronautics and Astronautics, Stanford University
  • BS, Astronautical Engineering, USAF Academy
  • Interests include: international security issues, playing the piano and guitar, and teaching leadership skills to junior officers.

What is your current role at Boeing?

I work primarily in the advanced communications and information assurance areas to get information to the "tactical edge." We take for granted the infrastructure we have for cell phones and Internet here in the U.S. When the military deploys to an austere area, they want to be able to recreate the same environment of information availability.

We are also developing products in the language translation and biometrics areas to help soldiers communicate better with the local populations and to use advanced techniques to prevent attacks on U.S. and cooperating forces.

Did Boeing support and encourage your educational efforts and studying at Stanford?

Boeing has a great tuition assistance program; as long as the program leads to a certification or degree, they'll pay for it.

How does your work relate to the topic of international security?

The information age has magnified the importance of an integrated education. Being able to understand the interrelation of different fields such as technology, sociology, and psychology is hugely important with the complex problems facing us.

Some say we are in an era of "4th Generation Warfare," where the first three generations were based on massing forces, but now it may be more important to mass effects, such as providing services to meet local people's physical needs. The bad guys already understand how powerful information is and use it to influence populations. Security studies provide the context to better understand how this works, and hopefully, establish safety for the populations we're trying to protect more quickly and effectively.

What was the most valuable part of earning the International Security Graduate Certificate?

I'd say the dialogue with the faculty. You gain new insights by synthesizing their interests with yours. Amazing things have been studied and written down by scholars, and we benefit enormously when we just take the time to read them. The partnership between industry, government, and academia is pretty tight in the technical fields, but I'd like to see government have a more effective process for making security grand strategy and policy that really leverages the great work that's been done by academia.

How has the certificate helped you overall?

Every time I go back to school I start making new connections intellectually. I keep hoping to reach "true enlightenment" - maybe the next course I take!

Why did you decide to study at Stanford?

The Stanford Center for Professional Development program attracted me because of the convenience of streaming video lectures and the great faculty. Steve Stedman has real world experience in peacekeeping in the field with the United Nations. William Perry was undersecretary of defense for acquisition technology and logistics when my airplane, the F-117, was being developed. Later, he was secretary of defense - the top defense job in the government. It doesn't get better than that.

What was the most memorable part of studying at Stanford?

Taking my mid-term exam for M&SE 293 in Ulaan Baatar.

What was it like juggling school, work, and family?

You have to be disciplined. I did part of Professor Perry's course while I was in Mongolia. It was a little tough finding high speed broadband, but I managed. Sometimes I waited until my family went to bed. You know the saying, "you can sleep when you're dead!" Make sure you plan your week so that you have sufficient time. Study what you love, or at least what you're highly motivated to complete.