CRANE, Ind. –
Naval Surface Warfare Center, Crane Division (NSWC Crane) and the University of Southern Indiana (USI) graduated their first cohort of the Tech to Engineer (T2E) Students on December 18. In the program, ten NSWC Crane employees in technician positions took USI classes part-time while continuing to work full time. Now, the employees all have Bachelors of Science in Engineering.
“This new degree will allow the employees to convert to the engineer career path at NSWC Crane,” said Scott Karcher, NSWC Crane Technical Lead for Crane Division University. “This program is a great example of Crane’s partnership with USI and our commitment to employee development and educational opportunities.”
On December 14, the students competed in a homemade robot battle as their final capstone project. The event took place at WestGate Academy in Odon, Indiana.
“Beyond a showcase of the skills of these engineers, this event is a chance to celebrate a group of students that have achieved an incredible milestone–an accredited Bachelor of Science in Engineering degree,” said Dr. Paul Kuban, Chair of the USI Department of Engineering in a December 2021 USI press release. ““The students who are completing this program have worked incredibly hard for five years while also working full time jobs and many having families. It’s a very special day for them, and it’s a very special day for USI Engineering to be able to recognize their hard work.”
The program, which began in 2017, required the students to participate in class via livestream at WestGate Academy, before transitioning fully online due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I really enjoyed the close bond we developed as a cohort going through this program together,” said Tim Gomez, a student in the program. “Since we’re all working professionals, our cohort brought a wealth of experience in different areas to the classroom. I’m looking forward to furthering my career and seeing what opportunities open up that I did not have as a technician.”
Aaron Eaker, a branch manager at NSWC Crane, said this program was a way to fulfil a goal he had since graduating technical school in 2005.
“I had always wanted to pursue my engineering degree after technical school, but I did not want to separate from service or take a huge amount of time to do so,” said Eaker. “With the closest University being over 1.5 hours away, trying to work and go to school part time was going to take me over 10 years to complete. The T2E not only brought the classes to a nearby venue, but it also outlined a curriculum that would only take 5 years to power through.”
He said the program was difficult but rewarding.
“I would like to add a special thanks to all the folks that were part of standing up and making the T2E program a success,” said Eaker. “While it was not an easy program to complete, I believe it has made all of us better employees.”
Karcher said plans for the second cohort are underway, with an information session and call for interested employees in the spring. He said due to COVID-19, USI developed online classes. This approach will likely continue for the next round of the program, allowing employees in the program even more flexibility.
“Both Crane and USI are pleased with how this first cohort went! We tentatively plan to have a second cohort start in January 2023,” said Karcher. “Going forward, the program will be called ‘BS in Engineering,’ rather than ‘Tech to Engineer.’ We don’t want to limit the program to technicians, since we think there are likely employees in other career fields who might be interested.
Noah Callahan, another student in the program, said he is looking forward to using his new degree.
“It was very exciting to be able to continue my education while maintaining a full-time job, especially since NSWC Crane was funding the program,” said Callahan, an engineering technician. “Now, I plan to convert to a design engineer within my current group at Crane.”
About NSWC Crane
NSWC Crane is a naval laboratory and a field activity of Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) with mission areas in Expeditionary Warfare, Strategic Missions and Electronic Warfare. The warfare center is responsible for multi-domain, multi- spectral, full life cycle support of technologies and systems enhancing capability to today's Warfighter.
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