A new student engineering program places student-veterans in paid internships.
Program participants Matthew Belden(left) and Matthew Kochevar are both electrical engineering majors and Navy veterans.
A federal program designed to place student-veterans into paid engineering internships has gained momentum through the support of five corporate sponsors with ties to San Diego.
The Troops to Engineers SERVICE (Success in Engineering for Recent Veterans through Internship and Career Experience), program began at SDSU in February 2011, with a one-year grant from the National Science Foundation.
It became self-sufficient this year, thanks to a $100,000 gift from Northrop Grumman and additional support from Cubic Corporation, San Diego Gas and Electric, Lockheed Martin and General Dynamics. These industry partners are also among 40 companies offering internships for student veterans.
Frank Flores, vice president of engineering at Northrop Grumman, said the Northrop Grumman Foundation is proud to support SDSU’s program.
“This is a great opportunity for our industry to support our returning warfighters while addressing our nation's critical need for engineering talent,” Flores said.
“Our warfighters have earned this support and we encourage industry to continue to support this program.”
From internship to full-time job
Patricia Reily, a retired Naval officer, is director of the program. She said the program has a nearly 100 percent placement rate and demand for internships continues to rise. The majority of interns are offered full-time positions after graduation.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, unemployment among veterans who served in Iraq and Afghanistan was at 12.1 percent in 2011. Meanwhile, unemployment among non-veterans for that year was at 8.7 percent.
“This program provides a valuable service to the industry partner while at the same time providing a wage and work experience for the student-veteran,” Reily said. “Once these students are placed, my job is done; they prove themselves.”
Stories of success
Michael Chen is a U.S. Navy veteran who found work through SDSU’s Troops to Engineers and SERVICE program.
An electrical engineering student with a 3.46 grade point average, Chen volunteered at the Veteran’s Home in Chula Vista while taking classes at SDSU and caring for his own family.
“I sent out tons of resumes and didn’t get a single call back,” Chen said. “Then Ms. Reily helped me get an internship with Cubic, and after graduation, I was offered a job.”
Another mark of success for the program is the number of scholarships awarded to SDSU students this year by the Society of American Military Engineers.
An unprecedented nine of this year’s 16 awardees are student-veterans involved with SDSU’s Troops to Engineers Success in Engineering for Recent Veterans through Internship and Career Experience. An SDSU chapter of the national society is now active on campus.
Another student in the program, Jason Schiedermayer, received a prestigious Buick Scholarship of $25,000 per year for next two years toward his education in electrical engineering.