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four students in front of the history of electrical engineering wall inside the L3Harris atrium
Inaugural Northrop Grumman undergraduate scholars Bao Ho, Joshua Joseph, Valentina Terry and Raul Graterol

A new partnership with one of the world’s foremost aerospace and defense companies is opening doors for UCF electrical and computer engineering students.

Four undergraduate students have been chosen for the inaugural Northrop Grumman (NG) Undergraduate Scholars program, which provides the opportunity to in UCF research labs, receive mentorship from faculty and intern at Northrop Grumman this summer. The selected students are computer engineering sophomores Bao Ho and Joshua Joseph, junior Valentina Terry and senior Raul Graterol.

The Northrop Grumman Scholars program embodies the UCF Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering’s dedication to forging significant educational and vocational pathways for ECE students, culminating in direct employment opportunities,” says chair Reza Abdolvand. “We extend our profound gratitude to Northrop Grumman’s leadership for recognizing the merit in early investments within our student body.”

Each student is paired with an advisor from the department, providing a support system for the students and the opportunity for additional hands-on training at UCF. Faculty members Mike Borowczak, Di Wu, Sazadur Rahman and Ronald DeMara are serving as mentors while the students, in turn, provide assistance in their labs.

The four students will also intern at Northrop Grumman this summer, putting their theoretical knowledge into practice at its Linthicum, Maryland office. The arrangement benefits both the students and the UCF-Northrop Grumman partnership – the students are able to apply what they have learned in the classroom to an industry setting, and the department can assess what curriculum updates are needed to better prepare incoming industry professionals.

“This partnership creates a sustainable pathway for our UCF students to quickly translate theories from the classrooms into cutting-edge research within UCF labs and industry-ready skills and practices at Northrop Grumman,” Borowczak says. “It also provides both partners insights and feedback for continued collaboration that’s aligned and relevant to mutual strategic objectives.”

Joseph says he is grateful for the support he has received from Borowczak, who serves as his advisor, and that that the fellowship is perfect for students interested in pursuing research in academia and industry. He is looking forward to gaining more experience in using Cadence, used in integrated circuit design, and application specific integrated circuits (ASIC).

“I think it will be an amazing opportunity for me to grow valuable skills in Cadence and ASIC design,” he says. “Additionally, the research will give me a better understanding of industry needs and allow me to explore and find what I am truly passionate about and interested in. The Northrop Grumman scholarship will allow me to participate in research that has direct applications to industry.”

Terry says she is looking forward to further developing her very large-scale integration, or VLSI, and digital design skills, as well as gaining a deeper understanding into hardware security during her research.

“This prestigious opportunity not only provides access to invaluable resources and mentorship but also instills a profound sense of responsibility to excel in this field,” she says. “I am eagerly looking forward to immersing myself in Northrop Grumman’s culture of innovation, collaborating with passionate individuals on cutting-edge hardware, and making meaningful contributions that extend far beyond the classroom.”

Graterol says that for him, this opportunity serves as a chance to align his career goals with a company that shares his vision.

“I am eager to contribute to Northrop Grumman’s mission, collaborate with experienced engineers and immerse myself in projects that define the edge of technological frontiers,” he says. “This opportunity will enable me to contribute meaningfully to its legacy of innovation, connecting, advancing and protecting humanity on every frontier.”

Overall, Abdolvand says he believes the partnership showcases the department’s exceptional caliber of students to Northrop Grumman.

“This initiative not only marks a pivotal step towards enhancing student prospects but also strengthens the synergy between academia and industry, setting a benchmark for future partnerships.”

students and advisors outside the L3Harris building