Serving Those Who've Served: New U.Va. Engineering Program Tailored to Veterans

November 30, 2009

November 30, 2009 — The University of Virginia's School of Engineering and Applied Science is launching an advanced degree program to serve those who have served.

The Accelerated Master's Program for Veterans in Systems Engineering has been created to meet the educational needs of recent U.S. military veterans as they reenter civilian life. Planning for the program is supported in part by the National Science Foundation through one of seven grants awarded to selected schools to develop programs targeted specifically toward helping veterans transition from military life into productive careers in advanced technology.

Built on the 10-year-success of the school's current Accelerated Master's Program in Systems Engineering – which annually brings about 45 working professionals to the Engineering School for an intensive set of courses that leads to a master's degree in systems engineering – the veteran-focused program is now recruiting students for its inaugural class, set to begin in May 2010.

The Engineering School has initiated a fundraising campaign to provide scholarships for eligible veterans. These scholarships would help to offset tuition not covered by the Post-9/11 G.I. Bill.

"We saw an opportunity to help veterans reenter society and begin a rewarding career path supported by an advanced degree in systems engineering," said Michael Smith, executive director of the program. "Because of their training and clearance to work on classified projects, many veterans are uniquely qualified and highly sought after in the advanced technology industry."

The veterans program will use a graduate engineering and business hybrid curriculum developed by faculty from the Engineering School and U.Va.'s Darden School of Business to strengthen students' ability to apply engineering problem-solving techniques and analysis to real-world business situations. The degree supports the career success of individuals in a variety of industries, including transportation, consulting, national security and health care.

Veterans will be able to balance family life and career while pursuing the advanced degree. Two full weeks in residence at the beginning and end of the program bookend a regular meeting schedule of every other Friday and Saturday on the U.Va. Grounds throughout the year.

While systems engineering is a promising career path for anyone holding the degree – CNNMoney.com recently ranked systems engineering No. 1 on its list of "best jobs in America" – veterans are particularly suited for the career and in high demand because many have gained technical skills and security clearances through their work in the military. These are two qualifications sought after by large defense and government contractors such as Lockheed Martin or Science Applications International Corporation, both of which often work in classified technology projects.

To learn about the Accelerated Master's Program for Veterans in Systems Engineering, visit www.sys.virginia.edu/accelerated.