Generations of skilled workers have used blueprints to guide them as they built ships, from the keel to the bridge.
But pipefitters, welders and engineers at Newport News Shipbuilding today are more likely to be seen consulting a computer tablet rather than paper.
Digital shipbuilding has streamlined the design process and made ship construction faster and more cost effective.
As it becomes the norm, Newport News Shipbuilding and Huntington Ingalls Industries officials have said they will need to hire thousands of tech-savvy employees.
Old Dominion University President John R. Broderick has announced a new partnership with the shipyard and Huntington Ingalls to help train some of those future shipbuilders.
Beginning this fall, between 10 and 20 ODU students will receive scholarships of up to $5,000 a semester from the Newport News Shipbuilding and Huntington Ingalls Industries Scholars program.
For the first five years the scholarships will be funded by a yearly donation from Newport News Shipbuilding, the nation’s largest military shipbuilder.
Beginning in 2024, an endowed fund from Huntington Ingalls, the shipyard’s parent company, will continue the scholarships in perpetuity.
Broderick played a key role in negotiating the scholarship program and expressed admiration for the company’s philanthropy and decision to invest in ODU students.
“We are grateful to Newport News Shipbuilding and Huntington Ingalls for their decision to fund this scholars program,” Broderick said. “We’re also heartened and gratified that they recognize the importance of connecting and building relationships with our students before they graduate. Old Dominion is committed to playing a key role in helping fill the jobs of the future in Hampton Roads.”
The scholarship is an outgrowth of ODU’s commitment to train students in digital shipbuilding.
ODU already has a strong relationship with Newport News Shipbuilding and Huntington Ingalls that includes commitments to collaborate on research and to entice young people into STEM-H majors (science, technology, engineering, mathematics and health sciences).
More than 1,400 ODU alumni work for Huntington Ingalls Industries and Newport News Shipyard. Many corporate leaders serve on ODU boards, including Jerri F. Dickseski, executive vice president of communications for Huntington Ingalls, who is a member of the University’s Board of Visitors.
“The relationship between Newport News Shipbuilding and Old Dominion University is deeply rooted in our shared values,” said Jennifer Boykin, president of Newport News Shipbuilding.
“What makes this relationship special is not just its longevity, but the nature of our commitment. We have worked together to create engineering programs for our employees and establish the Virginia Digital Shipbuilding Workforce Program to create a talent pipeline to train new workers.
“We are proud to have hired more graduates from ODU than any other academic institution. We have been partners in the truest sense, and this scholarship is a testament to that.”
The donation comes during a $250 million fundraising campaign announced by Broderick in 2017. Much of the fundraising effort is intended to increase student financial aid.
“Newport News Shipbuilding and Huntington Ingalls Industries have always shown great leadership in the region, and they’ve done so again by choosing to invest in Old Dominion University and its students,” said Alonzo Brandon, vice president for University Advancement and head of ODU’s fundraising efforts.
“We have a wonderful partnership with the shipyard and Huntington Ingalls. Everyone involved with benefit from this investment.”
Selected ODU juniors, seniors and graduate students will receive scholarships. They must major in a program related to engineering analytics, information technology or computer sciences.
Scholarships will be awarded based on grade-point averages and faculty recommendations, with preference given to students who profess an interest in living and working in Hampton Roads.
The agreement includes a mentoring program. Scholarship recipients will meet with executives from the shipyard and Huntington Ingalls and be offered internship opportunities.
Students will also tour Newport News Shipbuilding and experience what officials call “an insider’s view” of how ships are designed and constructed.
“They will be hiring thousands of people in the next few years, and primarily people who work in the digital shipbuilding industry,” Brandon said. “This scholars program will help them develop a new workforce.”
Under Broderick’s leadership, ODU has increased its STEM-H programs and is upgrading related facilities on campus.
ODU begins work this month on Owens House, a 470-bed residential hall that will house largely STEM-H and cybersecurity students.
Work begins in February on a state-of-the-art chemistry building. The combined cost of the projects is more than $140 million. Both are set to open in 2020.
More than 40 percent of ODU students are STEM-H majors, and the University graduates the second-largest percentage of STEM-H majors in Virginia.