San Diego Gas and Electric always needs qualified, capable engineers — and San Diego State prepares engineers through the College of Engineering.
In a move that promises to foster a better future for both, SDG&E donated $10,000 to the Troops to Engineering Program during a ceremony on campus Feb. 24.
An Aztec connection helped make the donation a reality — alumnus Dave Geier, SDG&E vice president for electric transmission and distribution, also on the College of Engineering advisory board and the Troops to Engineers board, oversaw the donation to the university.
The College of Engineering launched Troops to Engineers SERVICE, (or Success in Engineering for Recent Veterans through Internship and Career Experience) with retired naval officer Patricia Reily as its director in February, 2011.
The organization seeks to place interested student veterans into paid internships with local companies in need of engineers. In a short period of time, Troops to Engineers has successfully placed a number of veterans into internships — some of which became full time employment.
Though the program got its start through seed money from an endowment made by the National Science Foundation, it is now fully self-supportive, Reily said, thanks to donations from industry partners — who are sometimes also the source of internships.
“Donations like this one keep the program going and self-sufficient,” Reily said. “Dave has been tremendously supportive of the program and SDG&E is very supportive of veteran programs.”
The idea for the program is to provide a valuable service to the industry partner while at the same time providing a wage and work experience for the student-veteran, Reily said. It’s a win for veterans, a win for the company and a win for the country when a young veteran finds work when unemployment among veterans is so high.
Of course, the program and SDG&E are nearly a perfect fit.
“There are a number of students in the program studying electrical engineering with a focus on power generation – the kind of work SDG&E does,” Reily said. “In fact, one of the student veterans on-hand to receive the check with me today has already been chosen to intern at SDG&E this summer. Hopefully, more will follow him.”
The relationship between the College of Engineering and local companies is just one example of how the university engages the San Diego region, a key initiative of The Campaign for SDSU. Whether it’s supporting programs that contribute directly to San Diego's growth or building academic programs to prepare for the region’s future, SDSU is an important community partner. Learn more about SDSU’s community engagement and how you can contribute.
Benefit to SDG&E
SDG&E employs a large number of veterans, said Geier, and they have a history of supporting the military and veterans.
There is a mutual benefit to both the veteran and the company, as many veterans come into the positions already having a practical familiarity with the engineering systems and equipment.
“From the veteran’s point of view, they’ve earned the opportunity,” said Geier, “and from SDG&E’s point of view, the veterans come with a lot of real world experience — which we need. It’s a natural fit with the veterans coming to fill these positions.”