This is an amazing opportunity for anyone interested in engineering.

Paul Fain of Inside Higher Ed reports.

Student and Shipbuilder

Apprenticeships often are touted as a neglected alternative to enrolling in college, one that leads to jobs. A smattering of colleges, however, think apprenticeships can go hand in hand with earning a degree.

Students at Old Dominion University, for example, now can do a four- to eight-year stint as apprentices at a nearby shipyard while simultaneously earning a bachelor’s degree in mechanical or electrical engineering. The apprentices spend a day or two per week in the classroom and the rest of their workweek on the job at Newport News Shipbuilding.

Incoming apprentices earn $16 per hour at the shipbuilding company’s Apprentice School. For the Old Dominion students, that works out to at least $225,000 during the course of their apprenticeships. They also get free tuition, fees, textbooks, a benefits package and a guaranteed job when they graduate.

“They come in earning a good living wage,” said Todd Estes, the Apprentice School’s university liaison. “Not only is there no cost of instruction, but we actually pay them.”

Old Dominion’s new apprenticeship began in 2013. It may be the first in the country to be tied to a bachelor’s degree. And while the university is particularly well-placed for such a program — given that a shipyard with 23,000 employees is in its backyard — several experts said the apprenticeship could be a national model for other institutions to emulate with their local businesses.