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Doors of Opportunity Open Wide for UCF Students in Lockheed Martin College Work Experience Program

For more than 40 years, thousands of UCF students have built their careers as CWEPs thanks to the university’s unique partnership with Lockheed Martin.
By: Kimberly J. Lewis | April 5, 2024

For computer science student Nikole Solano, applying to the Lockheed Martin College Work Experience Program (CWEP) at the University of Central Florida was an easy decision after seeing her college roommate participate and land a dream job upon graduation.

CWEP annually provides paid work experiences to approximately 430 students university-wide through a longstanding partnership between UCF and Lockheed Martin, a global security and aerospace company with facilities in Orlando.

CWEP students perform meaningful part-time job tasks relevant to their academic areas of study, onsite or remotely, for two or more semesters. Many get full-time job offers from Lockheed Martin and other companies after participating.

“When I was a freshman, my college roommate was in CWEP and she’d often tell me how thankful she was for the opportunities that opened up for her,” says Solano, a senior student specializing in cybersecurity. “She recently accepted a full-time job with Microsoft.”

Lockheed Martin CWEP at UCF is nationally unique in terms of its size and longevity. For more than 40 years, Lockheed Martin has helped thousands of UCF students build their careers through CWEP.

Among UCF’s CWEP alumni is Lockheed Martin Chief Operating Officer Frank St. John ’87 ’91MS, who holds two electrical engineering degrees from UCF. His CWEP journey illustrates how transformational CWEP can be for students.

“CWEP did a couple things for me. It cemented my desire to work in engineering as a career, and it also gave me a perspective while I was getting an education of how that was going to be used in the future,” St. John says. “It was also beneficial for the company because they got to try me out as a part-time employee.”

Located in Orlando — a national hub of aerospace and defense innovation — UCF provides Lockheed Martin a vast talent pool of undergraduate and graduate students studying engineering, business, finance, communications, mathematics, computer science and other disciplines.

Solano applied to CWEP during her sophomore year through UCF Career Services, the university office that administers all experiential work and internship recruitment opportunities for students.

“I got the cybersecurity CWEP position and it’s just opened up so many opportunities for me,” Solano says.

Solano works  alongside professionals and applies her cybersecurity knowledge gained at UCF towards real-world company projects. She says the hours are flexible, the team environment is inclusive and that her managers want to help her succeed.

Best of all, Solano says her CWEP experience at Lockheed Martin is a boost to her professional resume.

“People are always impressed when they see that I’m doing all these amazing things for Lockheed Martin. Employers want to talk to me,” she says.

Industrial engineering student Jean Ozit applied for CWEP when he heard fellow students talk about the real-world experience it provides in a supportive learning environment that offers a flexible schedule and good part-time pay.

“CWEP opened my eyes to what industrial engineers do on the job,” Ozit says. He applies his UCF-acquired engineering skills to design digital dashboards that help Lockheed Martin process data to make operational decisions. He works alongside professional engineers who not only act as supervisors but career mentors.

“You get to learn,” Ozit says. “That’s the best part of the CWEP program is getting the opportunity to learn and get exposure early in your career.”

CWEP Leads to Better Classroom Performance

Dean of the UCF College of Engineering and Computer Science Michael Georgiopoulos says over time, CWEP students become stronger in the classroom and exhibit more enthusiasm for their area of study when they begin to see how their academic learnings are applied in an industry setting.

“By spending time with Lockheed Martin, they get to understand a little better what their profession is all about. They become more confident, more mature, more talkative about their discipline. They are able to understand why they are learning these important fundamentals in their coursework.

“It’s a double gain for students. They become better students and they become better professionals,” Georgiopoulos says.

Director of UCF Career Services Lynn Hansen says one of the most rewarding aspects of her job is seeing the transformation of students during their time working as CWEPs.

“UCF is a place where students can unleash their potential,” Hansen says. “The Lockheed Martin College Work Experience Program is one of the most unique ways to do that.”

Who Can Apply to CWEP at UCF

Students who have completed at least one semester at UCF and have an overall GPA of 2.8 or higher are encouraged to apply to the Lockheed Martin College Work Experience Program at UCF.

Undergraduate and graduate students from diverse disciplines are recruited for opportunities that serve Lockheed Martin’s vast business areas.

Top disciplines recruited for CWEP are engineering, computer science, information technology, business, finance, mathematics, communications, marketing, and sciences. Students in other majors may also find CWEP opportunities.

Students interested in pursuing CWEP at UCF should submit an application through the Lockheed Martin CWEP portal administered by UCF Career Services. The application remains available for Lockheed Martin hiring staff to search according to the skills and educational background required for each unique opportunity.

“Students can apply any time of the year, because Lockheed Martin hires UCF students year-round,” Hansen says.

Hansen recommends undergraduate students apply in their second or third year of college, to benefit the most from the program. Graduate students, she says, are encouraged to apply at least one year before they intend to complete their UCF program.

On-site or Virtual Lockheed Martin CWEP Positions

While many UCF students work onsite at Lockheed Martin’s Orlando facilities, virtual CWEP opportunities exist to serve the company’s worksites located throughout the United States and even internationally. Most work schedules are flexible to accommodate students’ academic schedules.

To learn more, visit UCF Career Services website at career.ucf.edu/Lockheed-Martin