Engineering a career: Tinker focuses on engineer education

  • Published
  • By Mike W. Ray
  • Tinker Public Affairs
Tinker AFB is doing a lot in the area of education to attract and keep engineers.
For example, in the Long-Term Training program sponsored by the OC-ALC/EN, enrollees have their tuition, fees and textbooks paid for up to three semesters while they study for a Master of Science degree at the University of Oklahoma, Oklahoma State University, or some other local public, accredited university. The students attend school full-time while continuing to draw their full salary throughout those three semesters.

The PALACE Acquire Science and Engineering Program offers qualified Bachelor of Science graduates a three-year development and training program that includes one year of graduate studies relating to state-of-the-art technology.

Scholarships are offered through the Science, Mathematics, and Research for Transformation program. SMART scholars receive full tuition and educational fees, a generous cash stipend, and employment with Department of Defense facilities after graduation. The SMART program was established by the DOD to support undergraduate and graduate students pursuing degrees in science, technology, engineering or mathematics disciplines. The program's aim is to increase the number of civilian scientists and engineers working at DOD laboratories.

In a related matter, Moore Norman Technology Center, with assistance from engineers employed in the public and private sectors alike, has developed a year-long Engineering Technician program. The curriculum was developed in a collaboration that involved engineers from Tinker, the Federal Aviation Administration, and The Boeing Co.

"We hosted an aerospace industry needs meeting in September 2012, and a wide variety of the attendees suggested we move forward with this career path offering," said Rafael Tirado, the program coordinator.

The program is designed to provide "a broad base" of math, science and engineering courses "to prepare the students to enter the technical workforce upon graduation,"Mr. Tirado said. Students take classes in computer applications (Word, Excel and PowerPoint), quality assurance, lean six sigma, math shop essentials, print reading, geometric dimension and tolerance, computer-aided design, machining, basic electronics, mechanical and electrical principles, fundamentals of technical writing, and employment readiness skills.