A gift from Fincantieri Marine Group has made it possible for six Virginia Tech students to work alongside faculty members on 10-week summer research projects.

The company’s support allowed the university’s Multicultural Academic Opportunities Program to provide financial assistance to the students during internships over the summer and into the 2023-24 academic year.

“We deeply appreciate Fincantieri’s generosity in making it possible for students to engage in hands-on, real-work research projects,” said Multicultural Academic Opportunities Program Director Monica Hunter. “We are proud to have a worldwide leader in shipbuilding partner with us for the first time and know that the students will make the most of this opportunity to enhance their skills with guidance and mentorship from faculty.”

The six students receiving scholarships through the program are Menwa Besheer, Jacob Wierer, Trevor Bradshaw, Bryan Angel, Gaith Orfaly, and Nikolas Rovira. The faculty projects are led by aerospace and engineering faculty Ella Atkins, Craig Woolsey, Christine Gilbert, Mathieu Joerger, and Luca Massa as well as mechanical engineering faculty member Amanda Leong. 

In her scholarship application, Besheer said, “By doing research, I’ll be continuously learning and discovering an innovative field. This opportunity will give me the chance to study a new area that I haven’t been exposed to before. I believe it will stretch my mind, challenge me, allow me to expand my horizons, and help me have a deeper understanding of towing basins and hydrodynamic forces. I want to contribute to something that will solve a real-life problem and even help the world in some way through research.”

Wierer said in his application that he is “curious to learn how the design process works in a university laboratory, how my current design and manufacturing skills apply, and what new skills I can learn.”

Fincantieri Marine Group is the U.S. subsidiary of Italian enterprise Fincantieri S.p.A., one of the world’s largest shipbuilders. Fincantieri Marine Group employs more than 2,500 people in the U.S. and plans to create another 1,000 jobs over the next two years in support of a $5.5 billion contract to build a new generation of guided-missile frigates, the Constellation class for the U.S. Navy.

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