The University of Central Florida produces more graduates who get jobs in aerospace and defense companies than any other university in the nation, according to an annual workforce survey conducted by the top aviation industry publication in the U.S.

“It says something about your graduates,” said Carole Rickard Hedden, executive editorial director for Aviation Week Executive Intelligence. She used a football analogy to explain how good UCF is at producing all around great engineers. “There are certain institutions, like UCF, that are really great at blocking and tackling—producing engineers of all disciplines who meet the needs of the industry.”

The 2015 Aviation Week workforce study surveyed corporations, 1,156 engineering students and 1,371 young professionals to track employment opportunity and compensation in the aerospace and defense (A&D) industry.  While A&D leaders still approach schools such as the Massachusetts Institute of Technology or Georgia Tech for workforce needs, the survey shows that UCF mechanical and aerospace engineering students are also highly pursued.

The distinction is important not just as a measure of the quality of graduates coming out of the UCF College of Engineering & Computer Science, but also as an indicator of the emergence of the university as a leading school in meeting the broad needs of the American manufacturing industry, Hedden said.

UCF’s engineering program has been recognized nationally for its notable strengths in optics, simulation, aerodynamics, aero-structures, space aviation, advanced turbomachinery, systems and controls, unmanned aerial vehicles and advanced manufacturing.

Michael Georgiopoulos, dean of the college, said the survey backs up what college leaders have known all along.

“As a large metropolitan institution, UCF provides a high-quality education inside and outside the classroom,” he said. “We are located in the heart of an economic powerhouse surrounded by industry. This means our students have easy access to research experiences, internships, entrepreneurial opportunities, service learning and jobs.”

The College has more than 9,000 diverse students and offers innovative programs such as the Engineering Leadership & Innovation Institute and provides students with access to high tech equipment and spaces such as the Maker Space lab complex.

“Our alumni and industry tell us that UCF is producing a high volume of skilled engineers and computer scientists who also possess the professional skills — such as collaboration, creativity and communication — that employers seek,” Georgiopoulos said.

In the last month UCF has been recognized along with Harvard, MIT, Stanford and Duke as one of the nation’s most innovative universities in a report in U.S. News & World Report’s Best Colleges 2016 guide and was the focus of a front page Washington Post story that notes UCF is “storming higher ed” as a model for “a nation in desperate need of a better-educated workforce.”