URI awarded $5.3 million U.S. Navy contract

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Contract funds national internship program run by College of Engineering

KINGSTON, R.I. – January 5, 2010 – The University of Rhode Island’s College of Engineering was awarded a $5.3 million contract by the U.S. Navy to fund the national Student Services Program.

The Student Services Program links undergraduate and graduate science and engineering students from across the country with paid internship opportunities at the Naval Undersea Warfare Center (NUWC) in Newport. The program’s previous contract, awarded in 2005, was to expire in 2010. The current contract will fund the program until 2014.

The program provides students majoring in engineering, computer science, mathematics, chemistry and physics with the opportunity to work on research and development projects with professional scientists and engineers at NUWC.

“The Student Services Program gives students an excellent opportunity for hands-on learning that helps to sharpen their critical thinking and problem-solving skills,” said Thomas J. Kim, URI professor of engineering and director of the program. “The award of this contract will ensure that we can continue to offer our students, as well as students from other colleges and universities around the country, as many opportunities as possible to strengthen their experience and knowledge in applied science and engineering.”

As manager of the contract, URI is responsible for soliciting interested students, screening applicants, overseeing hiring, conducting security clearances, coordinating payroll, and assisting with travel arrangements.

“Students are typically assigned to a particular project that might include engineering design work, prototypes, data measurement, and testing,” said Sally Marinelli, administrator of the internship program. “All are quite challenging positions. And some internships result in full-time jobs after the students graduate.”

The program annually receives more than 300 applications from students around the country. Between 80 and 100 students are hired each year, with about half coming from URI.

“My work experience at NUWC gave me a first hand view of applications of the theoretical materials that had been explained in class and laboratory exercises throughout the course of my undergraduate studies,” said Akinyemi Akinsinde, a URI engineering alumnus from West Warwick who interned at NUWC in 2008 and was hired there as a full-time employee following his graduation last spring. “I learned quite a number of new technical skills, from new computer programs to different test procedures.“

“The technical and career development experience I received at the Naval Undersea Warfare Center was unmatched,” said Greg Parascandolo, a Johnston native who received his engineering degree from URI in 2008 and now works for NUWC. “I was an intern for three projects over the course of three years. The hands-on experience I received in my internships there was probably the most valuable thing I took away. The experience allowed me to jump right into my full time job as if I wasn’t a new engineer.”

Students hired into the program are allowed to work up to 20 hours per week while school is in session and 40 hours per week during the summer and school breaks. They must be U.S. citizens, full-time students, and maintain at least a 2.5 cumulative grade point average. The salary range is based on academic credits earned and goes from $10.73 – $18.70 per hour.

For more information, visit www.egr.uri.edu/NUWC.