More than 22% of the engineering workforce at Newport News Shipbuilding (NNS), a division of HII, are graduates of Old Dominion University.

That number could rise dramatically.

NNS, the largest industrial employer in Virginia and a division of the largest shipbuilding company in the United States, will be the lead industry sponsor of the Monarch Accelerator Program to Engineering (MAP-to-E), which aims to increase the number of engineering and engineering technology majors and degrees, particularly from underrepresented and underserved communities in Hampton Roads.

NNS will make a five-year gift to the program with an invitation to renew for another five-year term. The program also hopes to meet the growing workforce demand for engineers at NNS, which is planning to hire more than 300 entry-level engineers over the next 12 months.

Dave Bolcar, NNS vice president of engineering and design, calls MAP-to-E “transformative” as it connects with students in their first year at ODU, guiding them toward success in their studies and rewarding careers at the shipyard.

“As we grow our already strong partnership with Old Dominion University, the MAP-to-E program is a logical extension of that work,” Bolcar said. “We’re designing and building the highest-quality aircraft carriers and submarines for the U.S. Navy at NNS, and we can’t wait to welcome more ODU students to that important national security mission as part of our shipbuilding team.”

MAP-to-E, patterned after successful engineering accelerator programs such as those at the University of Colorado and the University of Washington, works as an “academic redshirt program” for students who are talented and bright but not ready for the stringent math and science needed before entering engineering.

Redshirting – a concept commonly used in college athletics – allows a student to delay college competition in order to be fully prepared both physically and academically.

“These are largely talented students with unrealized potential who have the ability, aptitude and desire to be successful in engineering or engineering technology but have not had the opportunity to take the necessary math and science classes while in high school,” said Kenneth Fridley, dean of the Batten College of Engineering and Technology.

“Many of these students are either first-generation college students, or the first in their family to study engineering, and come from underserved communities and underfunded schools,” Fridley said. “These students, through no fault of their own, have not had the opportunity to be adequately prepared to transition directly into an engineering program upon entering college.”

The Monarch Accelerator Program to Engineering aims to:

  • Increase the number of full-time engineering and engineering-related students enrolled at ODU.
  • Increase the number of full-time students from underrepresented and underserved communities in Hampton Roads.
  • Increase the number of diverse and first-generation students pursuing careers in engineering and engineering-related systems.

This is NNS’s second major gift to ODU in recent years following the establishment of the NNS Scholars program that endows academic scholarships awarded annually to qualified junior, senior and graduate students studying engineering, business or computer science. MAP-to-E will open the door earlier to expose and prepare freshmen to engineering and engineering technology careers and to take part in NNS partner initiatives on campus, including the NNS co-op program and internships and mentorships, a key offering for NNS Scholars.