search button
newscenter logo
Friday, March 31, 2023

Follow SDSU Follow SDSU on Twitter Follow SDSU on Facebook SDSU RSS Feed

A grant from the Northrop Foundation will benefit SDSU veterans studying engineering. A grant from the Northrop Foundation will benefit SDSU veterans studying engineering.

Engineering Veteran Success

The Northrop Grumman Foundation helps fund innovative veterans’ program at SDSU
By the College of Engineering

The Northrop Grumman Foundation pledged a $100,000 grant to San Diego State University’s Troops to Engineers.

The program is called SERVICE — Success in Engineering for Recent Veterans through Internship and Career Experience.

Frank Flores, vice president of engineering for Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems and board member of the Northrop Grumman Foundation, announced the grant at a presentation made earlier this month at the San Diego campus.  

“This program is making a concrete difference for young veterans returning from service who are seeking to further their education, and for the community that is embracing them,” Flores said. “The Troops to Engineers program has the numbers that show that it really works.”


Since the program started 16 months ago, 38 student-veterans have been placed in internships or full time jobs.

All of the student-veterans placed in summer 2011 internships (14 student-veterans) were asked by their employers to stay on in full time or part time jobs. 

Eleven students have been awarded bachelor of science degrees in engineering since the program started and all of them found full time employment when they graduated. Nine of the graduates transitioned into full time jobs at the companies they were interning with.

SDSU launched the program with seed funding from the National Science Foundation in January 2011. The program has two underlying premises:

  • Military veterans are an excellent source of engineers at a time when the need for engineers is increasing.
  • Career-enhancing, paid internships are the key to a successful transition from military to civilian careers for young veterans. 

Student-veterans have excellent technical experience, tend to have higher GPA’s and finish at a higher rate than their non-veteran classmates which makes them highly qualified for internships.  

“The student-veterans have had the lab before they get the course,” explained David Hayhurst, the dean of SDSU’s College of Engineering. “The idea was that after a year, if our local industries could see the merit of the program they would step up to the plate to support it. This generous grant is evidence that industry sees the value of the program.”  


Supporters like the Northrop Grumman Foundation are providing opportunities for SDSU's student veterans to be successful in their transition from military service. Helping those who have served is one way SDSU is engaging the region, a key initiative of The Campaign for SDSU.


For the student-veteran engineer

The number of student-veterans seeking assistance from the program increased from 29 in May 2011 to 57 in May 2012. 

Including graduates, the program has served 68 student-veterans since it started. And inquiries about the program from veterans and active duty military outside of SDSU increased from one inquiry per week in May 2011 to five per week in May 2012.

“The program presents a ‘win, win, win’ solution to a local and national problem,” said program director Patricia Reily. “It’s a win for our local industries that need engineers.  It’s a win for veterans because they get jobs. Finally, it’s a win for our region — and our country — because employed veterans pay taxes and give back to their communities in numerous ways.  These veterans have stood the watch for the rest of us.  It is gratifying to see the support that they are getting from our local industries.”

Ultimately, it is the student-veterans themselves who have propelled the success of the program, Reily said. Once on the job they display the qualities they have learned through the military and college that make them stellar employees.

The veterans appreciate the opportunity to demonstrate their enthusiasm, diligence, intelligence and dedication to a team effort. Shaun Hanson, a student who has benefited from the program, said, “In the military you know that someone’s got your back. When you leave the military you miss that. This program makes you feel like someone’s got your back.”