After attending an informational session in his second year at UCF, industrial engineering Ph.D. student Christopher Hernandez knew he wanted to be a part of the Lockheed Martin College Work Experience Program (CWEP).

For 40 years, Lockheed Martin has partnered with UCF to provide students with paid internship opportunities through CWEP. The part-time program has grown exponentially, with approximately 650 students participating each year. On average, 60% of them are offered full-time jobs.

By utilizing hybrid work schedules, Lockheed Martin provides flexibility for students to complete the program’s requirement of 15-25 hour of work weekly while they maintain other responsibilities. In the video above Hernandez shares what it’s like interning with Lockheed Martin through CWEP and below he shares advice for other students interested in the program.

Where are you from and why did you choose to attend UCF?
I am from Oswego, Illinois (a suburb of Chicago). I chose to attend UCF because UCF had everything I was looking for in a graduate school. I was drawn to the university because of its prestige and recognition in several areas. The research conducted in the Department of Industrial Engineering and Management Systems also closely aligns with my research interests.  In addition to all that, I was definitely drawn to the warmer weather.

How did you become interested in industrial engineering and what do you want to pursue in this field?
When I began applying for college as a high school senior, I was unsure of a major; however, I was certain about wanting a career that somehow focused on the human body. Undecided, I enrolled at Iowa State University as an “undecided engineer.” I was fortunate to start college early as I was accepted into Iowa State’s summer bridge program, Academic Program for Excellence, and that is where I had the opportunity to tour Dr. Richard Stone’s Augmentation and Training of Humans with Engineering in North America (ATHENA) Lab, a lab in the Industrial and Manufacturing Systems Engineering department. I immediately fell in love with the research and decided to study industrial engineering with an emphasis on human factors and ergonomics.

My passion for this field has grown ever since enrolling and finishing my bachelor’s degree in industrial engineering (IE) at Iowa State. It has grown enough for me to continue onto graduate school at UCF in industrial engineering.  Here at UCF, I have now obtained my master’s degree in IE, and I am on the road to obtaining a Ph.D. in IE. After obtaining my Ph.D., I would like to help work toward improving safety and enhancing human performance with engineering.

What advice would you give to another student who is applying to the program or starting the program?
I would say to take full advantage of this opportunity and make the most of it. As UCF students, we are very fortunate to have the opportunity to gain industry experience at a widely known and respected company while working to obtain a degree. Also, don’t be afraid to ask questions when you are stuck. We aren’t expected to know everything, and it is OKto ask questions when they arise.

What skills have you gained from being involved in CWEP?
This program has been a rewarding experience thus far. From the work I have completed to the incredible people I have met, this is an experience I am so glad I decided to be a part of. As a student that aspires to work in industry after finishing my degree, it is important to have these internships and work experiences to gain real-world experience before applying to full-time jobs. I have developed and further enhanced various skills such as my analytical skills, interpersonal skills, and presentation skills. Thus, being a part of this program will help develop the skills I will need to be ready for full-time work in industry.

How does CWEP help you connect with other students and network with industry professionals? We develop many different personal and professional connections by working with professionals daily. In addition, CWEP has also created opportunities for CWEPs to meet each other. The past few events have been virtual because of the pandemic.