The Virginia Tech College of Engineering has signed five-year educational partnership agreement with the U.S. Naval Surface Warfare Center’s Carderock Division, allowing students to work directly with Navy engineers at naval facilities and research centers.

The goal of this partnership: Encourage students to pursue a career in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (or STEM, for short) disciplines, by providing unique hands-on opportunities to help solve real-world technical challenges the Navy faces. The program is open to graduate and undergraduate students.

“This educational partnership agreement gives us a great opportunity to build innovative educational collaborations between Virginia Tech and Carderock,” said Leigh McCue-Weil of Norfolk, Va., an associate professor of aerospace and ocean engineering and lead program manager on the partnership. “We bring students there on tours. We share software. We advise their people to degree. This puts an umbrella over a lot of it.”

Carderock – based in Bethesda, Md., with research locations across the United States, including Norfolk, Va. -- will provide academic and career guidance to students, make personnel available to teach, and assist in the development of science and engineering courses. The agency employs approximately 3,600 scientists, engineers, technicians, and support personnel.

“Virginia Tech students have long benefited from a positive relationship with the U.S. Navy’s Carderock facilities through internships, tours, and jobs,” said Richard C. Benson, dean of the College of Engineering. “We are excited to further strengthen this partnership through the educational partnership agreement.”  

Virginia Tech has a long history with Carderock with faculty from across the university working on research projects or taking sabbaticals with the agency. Hokie students also have completed internships there and gone on to work for the agency post-graduation, and other faculty within the College of Engineering have collaborated on various research projects.

McCue-Weil said she would like to see students partnering with all of Carderock’s facilities – others are located in Philadelphia and Florida, among other posts – outside of the Norfolk, Va., locale.

Carderock’s responsibilities include science and technology research and development, testing and evaluation, product delivery, and fleet support, according to the agency. It leads the Navy in hull, mechanical and electrical engineering expertise and delivers technical solutions in order to build and sustain a dominant, ready and affordable fleet.

“It’s my hope that Virginia Tech graduates will want to choose Carderock after spending time with our scientists and engineers,” said Capt. Heidi Stefanyshyn-Piper, commander of the division.