For the third consecutive year the University of Central Florida has produced more graduates who get hired by aerospace and defense companies than any other university in the nation.

That’s according to an annual Workforce Study conducted by Aviation Week Network, the Aerospace Industries Association, American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, and PwC, leaders in this industry.

“Not only do we provide an outstanding education in the classroom, our proximity to and relationships with industry insure that our students get direct real-world work experience as part of their UCF experience, which is what employers are looking for,” said Michael Georgiopoulos, dean of the College of Engineering and Computer Science.

With more than 10,000 students, the college is among the nation’s top producers of engineers and computer scientists. Students’ academic experience includes programs offered by the UCF Engineering Leadership & Innovation Institute, such as senior design “boot camps” that emphasize collaboration, innovation, creativity and accountability; and the UCF Maker Space Lab Complex that enables the transformation of ideas into working prototypes.

“Lockheed Martin has hired more than 2,500 UCF alumni,” said Michael Sarpu, vice president of Operations at Lockheed Martin Rotary and Mission Systems and a member of the Dean’s Advisory Board for the college engineering. “UCF’s programs in computer science, information technology and a variety of engineering disciplines attract a diverse set of candidates that help build a strong talent pipeline.”

The Workforce Study is considered the industry’s official report and has been a mainstay for aerospace and defense (A&D) planning and trend analysis since 1997. In addition to ranking top universities for recruitment purposed, it also identifies trends in technological challenges, leadership, demographics and compensation within the industry.

The 2017 study included interviews with 22 top aviation and defense executives, workforce data submitted by companies representing 65 percent of the industry’s workforce and company data on average pay in key industry jobs.  It also included a 10 percent random sample of engineering students from 11 universities that aerospace and defense companies have identified as preferred “suppliers” of new graduates and a 10 percent random sample of young professionals from 14 U.S. companies.

“Aviation Week Network has worked with A&D corporations and universities from around the world for over ten years to develop initiatives designed to attract, develop and retain the best and brightest university talent,” says Greg Hamilton, Aviation Week Network president. “These universities continue to work with the aerospace and defense industry to attract and educate the people who will lead the industry in the future.”

The study also reflects the growth of the A&D industry sectors in the Florida High Tech Corridor, said Ed Schons, president of The Corridor.

“In many ways, aviation, aerospace and defense technologies provided the foundation for what has become The Florida High Tech Corridor,” Schons said. “Our universities have tailored programs to support their workforce needs, growing over the decades that followed our race into space to serve a broad spectrum of tech industries from life sciences and bio-tech to digital entertainment, modeling and simulation and many more.”