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For the sixth year in a row, Aviation Week Network has named UCF the no. 1 supplier of graduates to the aerospace and defense agencies. The university was also named the most preferred supplier in Florida and ranked No. 2 in the nation, just behind the Georgia Institute of Technology.

“The Aviation Week Network Workforce Study differs from other university ranking polls in one simple way — the universities and colleges are those that companies choose as their primary resources for the talented workforce needed for the future,” says Greg Hamilton, president of Aviation Week Network. “Companies were asked to provide their top three universities in each category, with the aggregated data providing the final list of top schools.”

Engineering students were also surveyed and a random sample from 14 U.S. universities shows that 72 percent are interested in a career in aerospace engineering. The survey also shows that cost and location are the primary factors that students use to choose their school.

UCF is located near aerospace and defense giants such as Northrop Grumman, Lockheed Martin, Siemens, L3Harris, and NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, where 30 percent of workers are UCF alumni. Through the Center for Advanced Turbomachinery and Energy Research, the university partners with Aerojet Rocketdyne, Embraer and GE Global Research. It also supplies a steady pipeline of students to the Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman work experience programs.

“Our relationships with these companies go well beyond being next-door neighbors,” says Ali P. Gordon, the associate dean of Graduate Affairs for the College of Engineering and Computer Science. “They’re key stakeholders in the college. We collaborate very closely with them to integrate their workforces’ future skillset needs into our undergraduate- and graduate-level curricula.”

The Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering launched the Ph.D. in aerospace engineering this past fall in an effort support the growing demands of the aerospace and defense industries. As of this fall, more than 13,000 students are enrolled in the CECS. This past year, CECS awarded 2,259 degrees across its graduate and undergraduate programs — an increase of 11 percent compared to the previous year. Many graduates from UCF’s College of Business, College of Sciences and other colleges also pursue careers in aerospace engineering and defense industries.

Aviation Week Network’s annual Workforce Study is sponsored by PricewaterhouseCoopers and created in partnership with the American Institute of Aeronautics and the Astronautics and Aerospace Industries Association.