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For the fifth year running – or flying in this case – UCF has been named the No. 1 workforce supplier of graduates to U.S. aerospace and defense industries, according to Aviation Week Network. In addition, the university was named the most “preferred supplier” from Florida to the industries and No. 5 in the nation.

“The universities identified as preferred suppliers are those institutions that hiring managers turn to when looking to fill critical and high-value jobs,” the publication says, adding that the preferred-supplier status is based on academic reputation, research and the success of alumni already in the industry.

The aerospace and defense industries are populated by graduates with a variety of UCF degrees, such as mechanical and aerospace engineeringindustrial engineeringcomputer scienceelectrical engineeringcomputer engineeringbusinesscommunication and other fields. Several of the engineering degrees are offered fully online at UCF and can be completed from anywhere.

Many of the graduates in those industries are from UCF’s Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering programs. More than 4,000 students are enrolled in those programs, and more than 150 graduated with bachelor’s degrees and 23 with master’s degrees in the 2018-19 academic year. More than 550 have graduated with an aerospace engineering degree in the past five years.

UCF graduates work at some of the top aerospace and defense industries in the nation, such as Lockheed Martin, Siemens and NASA’s Kennedy Space Center — where 30 percent of employees are Knights.

Through strategic internship opportunities with industry partners, students can gain relevant work experience through paid internships while remaining enrolled full-time at the university. This includes at Central Florida Research Park, adjacent to the university’s main campus, and which is home to high-tech research operations for the Army, Navy and Air Force. The university also has partnerships with the Lockheed Martin Work Experience Program, which is available to undergraduate and graduate students in a variety of disciplines, and the Northrop-Grumman Work Experience Program, which is available in nearby Melbourne, Florida, for students majoring in industrial engineering and business.

Lockheed Martin provides paid work experience to about 650 students each year. On average, 60 percent are offered full-time jobs. The company hires more graduates from UCF than from any other university in the country. It also is the No. 1 employer for graduates of the College of Engineering and Computer Science and the College of Business and is the No. 4 employer for all UCF majors.

UCF just established a new doctorate in aerospace engineering this year and 34 students are enrolled in the program. One student, who entered the program with a master’s in mechanical engineering and had already been working on aerospace research, will be the first to graduate from the program in December.

Rounding out the Top 5 universities that provide the most new graduates to the aerospace and defense industries are: California Polytechnic State University, University of Florida, University of California at San Diego, and Georgia Institute of Technology.

Aviation Week Network developed the annual rankings in collaboration with PricewaterhouseCoopers, the Aerospace Industries Association, and the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics.

Written by Gene Kruckemyer for UCF Today.