RIT Ranked Third in Aerospace and Defense Workforce Study

Ranking highlights university as ‘preferred source’ of skilled graduates

Space exploration and research did not end with the last Space Shuttle mission.

Aerospace and defense corporations expect to hire 28,000 positions next year according to Aviation Week. Many of these corporations have found universities like Rochester Institute of Technology able to provide the must-have talent in these evolving industries.

RIT ranked third as one of the key schools companies prefer when recruiting and hiring in critical skill areas for the aerospace and defense industries. Findings were released in Aviation Week’s annual Workforce Study.

“This is a significant testimonial to our graduates, which is delivered directly from aerospace and defense leaders who are in need of talented and skilled workers,” says RIT President Bill Destler. “It demonstrates that our graduates are exceptionally prepared to meet the demanding needs of the industry, a vital innovative sector of the U.S. economy.”

New for the 2012 study, Aviation Week used three lenses to examine the schools most likely to supply the science, technology, engineering and mathematics talent needed for the future: the preferred, go-to schools for hiring quality grads; the universities where aerospace and defense hired the most graduates; and the schools young professionals believe give them the edge in being hired and being promoted.

Cal Poly-San Luis Obispo and Purdue University ranked first and second, respectively, in the “Go-to Universities” category, followed by RIT tied for third with University of Maryland.

RIT graduates are recruited by a number of aerospace firms and defense-related organizations including Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Northrup Grumman, Sikorsky Aircraft, General Electric Aviation, General Dynamics, Cherry Aerospace, Impact Technologies, ITT Exelis, BorgWarner and NAVAIR. In the past several years, commercial aerospace corporations such as SpaceX have also hired RIT graduates.

Employers consistently note the quality of RIT students and the academic preparation received in academic programs within the engineering, engineering technology and computing areas. Students in the mechanical engineering—aerospace option are particularly in demand, says Manny Contomanolis, associate vice president and director, Office of Cooperative Education and Career Services.

“Of particular value to the employer is the ability to recruit and hire students through RIT’s mandatory cooperative education program,” he says. “Employers have early access to student-talent which they can then further develop and bring into the company when students complete their degrees. More than half of RIT’s co-op students will accept an offer of full-time employment from one of their co-op employers.”

A mainstay for aerospace and defense planning and trend analysis since 1997, the workforce study identifies trends in technological challenges, leadership, demographics and compensation, and ranks the top universities for aerospace and defense recruitment. Findings in the Aviation Week study are based on corporate data from large and small manufacturers that employ more than 90 percent of U.S. aerospace workers and surveys of readers, young professionals and engineering students.

“2012 marks another year of pressure and change for the aerospace and defense industry,” said Greg Hamilton, president, Aviation Week. “Despite enormous uncertainty in the defense sector, U.S. aerospace and defense companies plan to fill some 28,000 jobs next year, and the forecast is for continued hiring as the industry brings into balance retirements, emerging talent needs, growth in the commercial sector and potential declines in defense and space.”