The Charger Blog

University of New Haven, Leading Aerospace Company Launch Innovative Mentoring Program

The University is collaborating with Lockheed Martin, a Fortune 100 company, to create a mentoring program that will support students and prepare them for the careers of the future.

April 13, 2020

By Renee Chmiel, Office of Marketing and Communications

Image of Lockheed Martin reception.
University of New Haven alumni who work for Lockheed Martin attended a reception where they learned how they could support a new mentoring program.

Vanessa Lopez ’17 was excited to return to her alma mater with fellow University of New Haven alumni who work for Lockheed Martin, a leading global security and aerospace company. They gathered at the Orange campus in late February for a reception that concluded the University’s celebration of Lockheed Martin Day.

"The University of New Haven opened a lot of doors for me – including the door that led me to Lockheed Martin,” said Lopez, a financial analyst, who is one of hundreds of alumni who work for Lockheed Martin. "I’m a believer in networking, and I have seen that having someone offer mentorship and support is important.”

"Undoubtedly, the new mentoring program will have a transformational impact on the lives of our students."Steven H. Kaplan, Ph.D.

The highlight of the evening reception was the launch of a new mentoring program to connect Lockheed Martin employees and students. The development of this new initiative is being supported by a $100,000 donation Lockheed Martin made to the University.

"We’re here for the long-term commitment,” said Dan Schultz, president of Sikorsky, the Stratford-based Lockheed Martin company that manufactures the Army’s iconic Black Hawk helicopter. "This check from our company says we believe in you.”

"On behalf of the entire University of New Haven community, I would like to extend my sincere appreciation to Lockheed Martin for its support of the University and our students,” added President Steven H. Kaplan, Ph.D. "Undoubtedly, the new mentoring program will have a transformational impact on the lives of our students.”

Image of Michael Ambrose ’84, Steven H. Kaplan, and Dan Schultz.
Left to right: Michael Ambrose ’84, vice president of engineering and technology at Sikorsky; University of New Haven President Steven H. Kaplan; Dan Schultz, president of Sikorsky.

The special alumni reception attended by Lopez and her colleagues was the culmination of a daylong program that began with the landing of a helicopter on the Bixler-Gerber Quad as hundreds of members of the University community, including some accepted members of the Class of 2024, looked on.

Throughout the day, students from across the University participated in a variety of interactive programs, including technology displays, simulator demonstrations, and a student challenge, among other events. Students also had the opportunity to interview for jobs and internships and 12 students were offered positions on the spot.

‘The first thing I do is offer to help’

Image of Ron Harichandran, Ph.D.
Ron Harichandran, Ph.D.

At the evening reception, alumni such as Felipe Munoz ’00, ’12 MBA learned more about how they could support the new mentoring program. A technical manager who has worked at Sikorsky for 13 years, Munoz says he hopes to help current students make the connections that were so critical to his career success.

"Every time I meet a fellow Charger, the first thing I do is offer to help in some way,” he said. "I want to be involved with this mentorship program. This is a great opportunity to give back.”

Ron Harichandran, Ph.D., dean of the University’s Tagliatela College of Engineering and vice provost for research, says mentorship is important for all students, and especially those in the science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) disciplines.

"Mentorship is particularly crucial for underrepresented and first-generation students,” he said. "Being able to have students and alumni serve as mentors can make all the difference in student success now and in securing future employment.”

Juniors and seniors in the program will have mentors at Lockheed Martin, and they will also serve as mentors for first-year students and sophomore students with majors in the STEM fields. Students will receive one-on-one support from their mentors, enabling them to build their professional network, develop important skills, and gain valuable experience.

"Being able to have students and alumni serve as mentors can make all the difference in student success now and in securing future employment."Ron Harichandran, Ph.D.

Christina Eggert ’00 Sc.D., an engineering manager for Lockheed Martin, enjoyed connecting with University faculty and staff members at the event, and she was eager to learn more about the mentoring program.

"I had a wonderful experience pursuing my degree at the University of New Haven,” she said. "I am interested in helping with the mentoring program, and I think it’s a great idea.”