Engineering master's program seeks military veterans, graduates

National Science Foundation facilitates Virginia Military Institute's students' University enrollment


The Engineering School’s Accelerated Systems Engineering Master’s Program is looking to increase recruitment of military veterans and alumni of military graduates. The one-year program is designed for people working full-time to earn 33 credits predominately through intensive Friday and Saturday courses.

The University will pair with the Virginia Military Institute after receiving a grant from the National Science Foundation that aims to increase the number of science, technology and engineering majors in the workforce.

The program also works to ensure those leaving the military have the opportunity to pursue higher education, in order to be competitive in the job market, VMI spokesperson Colonel Stewart MacInnis said.

“Usually more than half of the members of a graduating class enter the military, but only about 16 percent of VMI alumni make the military a lifelong career,” Stewart said in an email. “Most serve a tour and then begin a civilian career. VMI has developed memoranda of understanding with a number of graduate schools and a number of disciplines to allow its graduates to continue their education.”

MacInnis said the University program, which typically enrolls between 30 and 40 students, would also benefit from having students with real-world and military experience in the classroom.

Graduates of the program typically seek careers in a wide variety of specialized fields including positions in the defense industry, the banking industry and hospital administration, said Assoc. Engineering Prof. Michael Smith, the director of the accelerated program.

“Systems engineers are problem solvers trying to use data and analysis to try and make better-informed decisions,” Smith said. “Systems Engineers solve problems that involve multiple subsystems and components, and we focus on how we can make sure that all the pieces are working together well to try to solve the problem.”

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