Northrop Grumman Corp. and Virginia Tech are partnering in a 2015 Global Externship Program introducing international students to careers in cybersecurity, computer engineering, and program management. 

The Northrop Grumman/Virginia Tech Global Externship is an eight-week summer research program for international undergraduate and graduate students studying at an accredited university in the United States. Students work with research faculty at the Hume Center for National Security and Technology in the Virginia Tech Research Center — Arlington. They also learn about program management and leadership from Continuing and Professional Education, part of Virginia Tech’s Outreach and International Affairs, and how to build their language skills from the Virginia Tech Language and Culture Institute.

The six students in the 2015 program -- which began on May 26 and runs through July 17 --  hail from Saudi Arabia, China, Iraq, and Australia, and are studying at four different universities in the United States.

For a portion of each day, the students work in a research lab focused on real world problems under the direction of Ahmed Abdelhadi, a research scientist at the Hume Center.  

One of those issues concerns cellular networks which, in the past, have been dominated by voice-only traffic. In recent years, however, there has been a significant growth in the amount of multimedia-rich traffic over cellular networks, Abdelhadi explained. To support such traffic, networks require efficient allocation of data rates to mobile users. In addition, a clear discrimination needs to be set forth between multimedia-rich traffic which is usually associated with real-time constraints e.g. video conversations and VoIP, and delay-tolerant traffic like web browsing and emails.

“We are exploring the latest innovations for addressing these technical issues,” said Abdelhadi. “By the end of the eight weeks, we expect to achieve new system performance outputs to present to Northrop Grumman representatives."

The externship also allows students an opportunity to gain professional experience and apply their academic knowledge by job shadowing experts in their field, Abdelhadi said.

During daily sessions at the Language and Culture Institute, the students have an opportunity to improve their English speaking, reading, and writing skills, and learn business skills such as English technical writing and professional communications.

In addition to the research and language components, the students receive industry level project management, government contracting, and leadership training provided by Jennifer Carter, associate director, Continuing and Professional Education; representatives from Northrop Grumman; and other industry professionals who are member volunteers from the Project Management Institute’s Washington, D.C., Chapter.

Field trips are also part of the program. The students have visited the Northern Virginia Center where Kenneth Wong, associate dean of the Graduate School in the National Capital Region and director of the Northern Virginia Center, spent an afternoon with the students in the center’s new 3-D print lab facilities.  Additional field trips include visits to two different Northrop Grumman facilities in northern Virginia; lunch and learn sessions sponsored by Northrop Grumman executives; and visits to various sites in Washington, D.C.

The Virginia Tech program is one of three Northrop Grumman university externship activities across the United States.

"We are happy to be partnering with Northrop Grumman, bringing to life its innovative approach to addressing workforce pipeline issues," said Carter.