Vocational Scholar Finds New Career Path

Vocational Scholar Finds New Career Path
July 19, 2021

After serving in the Army as a Signals Analyst, Brian re-entered civilian life with a mission of his own: get a degree.

Using his GI Bill benefits, he enrolled in the Community College of Aurora (CCA) in Colorado.

“In the Army I was exposed to tech and computing applications,” said Brian. “I initially enrolled as an IT major, but my first semester of community college was so transformative that I felt like I had no barriers switching majors to Computer Science.”

In his second year, Brian started to work towards becoming a software engineer and became involved in organizations like the Colorado Space Grant Consortium (COSGC), which is funded by NASA. The state-wide organization involves 21 colleges around Colorado and provides local students access to space through a variety of courses and programs. It was on the engineering team lead by CCA faculty that he learned about Lockheed Martin’s vocational scholarship.


When Brian’s new career seemed to be within his reach, the world threw him, and the rest of society, a curveball in the form of the COVID-19 pandemic. Suddenly, Brian was questioning whether or not he would be able to continue his education.

“I applied to Lockheed Martin’s vocational scholarship with no expectation of receiving it,” said Brian. “The scholarship allowed me to finish my degree within my expected timeline rather than having to take a break from school to find work when the COVID-19 pandemic happened.”

Lockheed Martin’s Vocational Training Scholarship is a first-of-its-kind program in the defense and aerospace industry for students pursuing training for technical or vocational careers. Students awarded the Vocational Training Scholarship receive a $6,600 stipend to help them with costs associated with obtaining skilled training.

As a testament to Brian’s hard work and dedication, he was one of the 150 recipients in 2020.

That’s not all. After receiving his scholarship, Brian familiarized himself with the company and applied for another program at Lockheed Martin Space, the Software Associate Degree Program (SWAP). He got in.

SWAP is a three-year development program designed to attract, develop and retain early-career technical professionals in software and cyber-related careers. Students are accepted in the program before they graduate with their associate degree to accelerate the clearance process and be ready to join Lockheed Martin after graduation.

“The opportunities provided by Lockheed Martin have changed the direction of my path,” said Brian. “Two years ago, I never thought I would learn how to code. It was magic! A combination of symbols put together in seemingly random order that can solve problems or create services that provide utility. Understanding computing and being able to harness that capability is an incredibly empowering feeling.”

This fall Brian will transition into his full-time position at Lockheed Martin as a programmer where he will work with the teams sending vessels into space. Additionally, he continues working on his undergraduate degree in Computer Science at the Colorado School of Mines in 2022.

“I was under the expectation that I wouldn’t be able to find any sort of gainful employment until after I finished a 4-year degree program, said Brian. “However, Lockheed Martin has allowed me to get a jump start by giving me industry experience and a better trajectory for a successful career outcome.”

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