Murphy, Blumenthal, Courtney discuss new School of Engineering construction

U.S. Senator Chris Murphy talks his new foreign policy proposal, "Rethinking the Battlefield" Konover Auditorium, Dodd Center on Tuesday, April 11, 2017. (Jason Jiang/The Daily Campus)

U.S. Senator Chris Murphy talks his new foreign policy proposal, "Rethinking the Battlefield" Konover Auditorium, Dodd Center on Tuesday, April 11, 2017. (Jason Jiang/The Daily Campus)

Starting this spring, the University of Connecticut School of Engineering will offer a new concentration in naval science and technology.

United States Senators Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy and United States Representative Joe Courtney joined members of the School of Engineering faculty today to discuss the new concentration.

“The Navy STEM Concentration is basically a nine-credit area of concentration designed to prepare students for Navy-related careers. Three credits will come from a Navy STEM professional development seminar, which is intended to give [students] industry-specific knowledge. The other six credits are Navy-related senior design projects,” said School of Engineering Senior Associate Dean Michael Accorsi.

The new concentration was made possible through a $1.3 million grant from the Office of Naval Research and was awarded to UConn and the University of Rhode Island to expand Southern New England’s Navy science and technology workforce.

“As the name implies, this program is focused on preparing UConn engineering students for Navy-related careers. They could be in the industry for a company like Electric Boat, or they could be at a federal lab, such as the Navy Undersea Warfare Center in Rhode Island,” said Accorsi.

Accorsi said components of the concentration include a seminar class, professional guest speakers, internships and co-ops and an annual conference.

“The strength of the program is that when engineering students graduate, they’ll not only have a strong general knowledge of engineering, but specialized knowledge of engineering in Navy- related fields as well,” Accorsi said.

The senators and representatives expressed their excitement for the program.

“Take it as a sign of how excited we are about this partnership that we have the full delegation here today. I don’t know that I’ve ever spoken to a class with both senators and the representative, but we’re all here because this is a groundbreaking partnership,” Senator Murphy said.

Murphy said working in a Navy-related field is a great way for students to give back to their country while also working in an exciting industry.

“There’s nothing more exciting to be working on than a submarine because it’s one of the world’s most complicated products,” Murphy said.

Representative Courtney expressed his excitement that the Navy chose Connecticut and Rhode Island to invest in.

“The decision by the Navy to invest in this program is an exciting example of how they have shifted their focus right into Eastern and Southeastern Connecticut as a place where they plan to invest heavily and seriously,” Representative Courtney said.

Senator Blumenthal thanked the UConn engineering students in attendance for their interest in engineering.

“Naval research, naval engineering, and naval science has never been more important, so I just wanted to say thank you because the research you will be doing now and in the future will be the lifeblood of our national defense,” Blumenthal said.

University of Connecticut engineering students expressed their excitement for the program and said they definitely planned on enrolling in the concentration.

“I thought all the speeches were very eloquent and informative. I’m very excited that UConn is rolling out a new naval focus,” said first-semester mechanical engineering major Alexandra Buss.

“I definitely think I’m going to get involved in this program. As soon as this class comes out I’m going to take it and see if it’s right for me. I’m really excited about it and I think it’s going to be great for Connecticut,” said first-semester mechanical engineering Jim Horeman.

“The states of Connecticut and Rhode Island are home to a very strong Naval community. We have about 600 companies that supply and engineer products for submarines, and Groton is one of only two locations in the United States that builds submarines for the United States Navy, said Accorsi.

“Engineering is a very creative, exciting, rewarding profession. You’re going to do a lot of work while you’re here but it’s all very rewarding.

It’s also an important region for the economies of Connecticut and Rhode Island, because the submarine industry produces a lot of jobs, both directly and indirectly. The navy is intending to grow and increase submarine production over the next 30 years. That means there will be more workforce needed, which is what this program is intended for. This Navy STEM program addresses the regional workforce development.

“We will create a group of students called the Navy crew and provide them with educational courses that deal with Naval technology. We will build a community and engage with professionals from the navy who will engage and interact with our students. So basically what this does is provide students with industry-specific knowledge: knowledge about navy-related careers, and provides it to you while you’re an undergrad at UConn so when you graduate you’re walking into a job where you already know a lot about that specific profession. My experience is that a lot of students, when they graduate, aren’t sure where they’re going to go or in what specific industry. So really what this program is designed to do is to say to students that the program can accelerate your knowledge.”


Gabriella Debenedictis is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at gabriella.debenedictis@uconn.edu.