Before applying to the Raytheon Technologies Fellowship Program, Emma Lasky was unsure of how to turn her interests into a career post-graduation.

“I knew I liked statistics and I found my classes fun, but I had no idea what I was going to do with my degree,” said Lasky, a third-year statistics major and cybersecurity minor. 

After completing the Raytheon Technologies Fellowship Program, Lasky said if she hadn’t joined the program in spring 2020, she might still be unsure what to do post-graduation. “I might not even be doing computer science, which I ended up loving,” she said.

Lasky said the Raytheon Technologies Fellowship Program eliminated fear that used to accompany thoughts of post-graduation plans.

“I'm definitely more excited about graduating and working,” Lasky said. “Now that I have some real world experience under my belt and part of my future set in stone, I feel like I am so much more prepared to transition into working full-time.”

Lasky and seven other undergraduate students make up Ted and Karyn Hume Center for National Security and Technology's Cohort 1 of the Raytheon Technologies Fellowship Program that will intern at Raytheon Technologies during summer 2021 and start full-time positions post-graduation. 

The Cohort 1 undergraduate student members are:

  • Olivia Foster, third-year majoring in computer engineering
  • Casey Latoski, third-year majoring in radio frequency and microwave
  • Emma Lasky, third-year majoring in statistics
  • Bryan Millones, third-year majoring in business information technology
  • Elizabeth Mulvaney, third-year majoring in computer science
  • Madeline Renault, third-year majoring in computer engineering
  • Aziz Shaik, third-year majoring in computer engineering
  • Steven Shumadine, third-year majoring in computer engineering

Recently, Raytheon Technologies has agreed to extend the Raytheon Technologies Fellowship Program with the Hume Center and will fund the program for an additional four years.

"We could not be happier with our partnership with Virginia Tech and the Hume Center,” said Kent Pride, director of University Partnerships at Raytheon Intelligence and Space. “The quality of students applying to our program and the additional skills they are learning prior to graduation creates an extremely strong pipeline of talent into the company.”

With the extension of the program, more students like Lasky can transform their interests and passions into careers in cybersecurity, machine learning, and analytics with Raytheon Technologies in support of the Intelligence Community and the U.S. Department of Defense.

About the Raytheon Technologies Fellowship Program

Raytheon Technologies Fellowship Program is one of three workforce development programs coordinated by the Hume Center in support of long-term industry partners. The partnership between the Hume Center and Raytheon Technologies began in fall 2019 where students accepted into the program enter a pipeline of future Raytheon Technologies employees interested in cybersecurity, machine learning, and analytics careers.

Throughout their enrollment in the program, students attend lectures, establish mentorships with current Raytheon Technologies employees, and complete hands-on projects involving cybersecurity and machine learning to prepare them for summer internships at Raytheon Technologies. Students who participate in the Raytheon Technologies Fellowship Program are also automatically guaranteed one or more summer internships at Raytheon Technologies.

Skills Learned

Students begin with learning command-line Linux operations, network security fundamentals, and a variety of cybersecurity tools. The cohorts of the program also do an extended deep dive into machine learning, encompassing Python-based software development, open source tools like Keras and TensorFlow, and hands-on projects associated with radio frequency machine learning and image recognition. Guest speakers from Raytheon Technologies offer additional insights into notable hacks like StuxNet or software development processes, while topics on cryptography and wireless security round out the curriculum. 

“Thanks to the applied focus and hands-on expertise of the Hume instructors and Raytheon Technologies guest presenters, we are able to provide the fellows with a practitioner’s view of cybersecurity and machine learning, offering them a multi-year advancement in their work experience prior to graduation” said Alan Michaels, principal investigator and director of the Hume Center’s electronic systems lab.

As part of the internship included in the program, Madeline Renault worked on a software development team. “During this time I got exposure to new tools and programming languages I would not have gotten otherwise,” said Renault, third-year computer engineering major.  

Steven Shumadine, third-year computer engineering major said, “In my time with the program, I gained knowledge in intellectual property disclosures, DevOps, progress reporting, python programming, networking, machine learning, government regulations on defense work, and time management.” 

While the students are learning technical skills specific to cybersecurity, machine learning, and analytics careers, they are simultaneously learning vital soft skills applicable to all workplaces. 

Elizabeth Mulvany said that the program helped her to learn more efficiently and become a better teammate because of the communication and collaboration within the cohort. “The group members all have varying levels of expertise,” said Mulvany, third-year computer science major. “We’ve learned how to clarify points of confusion for others and that it’s okay to reach out for help.”

Knowledge Beyond the Classroom

Olivia Foster knew she wanted to learn more about cybersecurity and machine learning, but was having trouble finding the time in her schedule to focus on it. 

“I wasn't going to be able to take classes that focused on these subjects until closer to the time I was to graduate, so I searched for a way to get some experience in those fields outside of classes,” said Foster, third-year computer engineering major and psychology minor. “That’s when I found the Raytheon Technologies Fellowship Program. I took a chance, applied, and I don't regret it.”

The seminars and projects embedded into the program’s curriculum often allow students to learn about specialized topics that they aren’t able to fit into their original four-year-plan of classes.

Casey Latoski, third-year radio frequency and microwave major, said the program diversified his knowledge beyond traditional electrical engineering topics.

“None of the projects I was a part of before joining the Raytheon Technologies Fellowship Program were geared towards machine learning. This is something that I wanted to gain experience in, but I was unsure of how to do so because my major is solely focused on radio frequency and microwaves,” said Latoski. 

Before joining the program, Aziz Shaik was looking for additional opportunities to further his knowledge on topics outside of his coursework. “I was working on undergraduate research projects, but the fellowship program offered a closer look at the cybersecurity field, which I had an interest in but was not able to get involved in at the time,” said Shaik, third-year computer engineering major. Because of the program, Shaik was able to refine valuable skills related to machine learning and cybersecurity that he applied to his coursework. Additionally, the program allowed him to practice skills in a practical setting.

Guaranteed Summer Internship

A unique feature of the Raytheon Technologies Fellowship Program is guaranteed summer internship program at one of Raytheon Technologies' locations in the United States. Based on the student’s performance over the academic year and the summer, students are offered a formal position and a signing bonus at the end of their internship.

During his internship at Raytheon Technologies last summer, Shumadine said the internship mimicked what it is like to be a full-time Raytheon Technologies employee. “My work contributed to customer funded projects and I was treated just like any other employee, so I have a lot of confidence going into the workforce. I also picked up very useful skills that will transfer to my work after college.” 

Bryan Millones, third-year business information technologies major, was able to concurrently work as a Raytheon Technologies intern while completing a semester at Virginia Tech. “Having been a part of Raytheon's workforce for almost a year, I can say that I'm confident my skills gained from this will continue to benefit me in the future,” he said.

The program aims to cultivate student mentorships with current Raytheon Technologies employees throughout the academic semester, but especially during the intensive summer internship at a Raytheon Technologies location.

Shaik said the summer internship gave him the opportunity to work alongside experienced engineers who helped him better narrow down what he wanted to do with his career.

A Secure Future

During his time as part of the program, Shumadine is most proud of his submission to the 2020 Raytheon Summer Innovation Challenge with Darrell Young, which was selected for funding. “The experience directly led me to find later innovative projects. Because of my work with Raytheon Technologies, I currently have a patent pending, a Raytheon Technologies trade secret, and another intellectual property submission being reviewed,” said Shumadine.

Foster said if she had not joined the Raytheon Technologies Fellowship Program, she would still be trying to find a field that she was passionate about. “Being a part of this program has given me a sense of security and confidence that I feel I wouldn't have had at this point in my college experience without the program. I not only know what I want to do, but also how I will be able to achieve my goals,” she said.

Out of the 19 members of Cohort 1, 14 students completed internships at Raytheon Technologies over the summer of 2020, and nine students were offered full-time positions after graduation. 

“Due to the success of this initial program, two additional efforts have started under a Master Research Agreement that was put in place with Raytheon Technologies,” said Ehren Hill, co-principal investigator and associate director for outreach and education at the Hume Center. “This has allowed us to grow the relationship between different groups at Raytheon Technologies and other researchers at the Hume Center, allowing Raytheon Technologies to work with more students, and build a more impactful relationship between the two organizations.” 

Written by Aubrey Medina

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