(CBS4) - An effort to bring higher education and industry relevant training to Castle Rock is paying off for the newest graduates of the Sturm Collaboration Campus.
Luke Allevato says that COVID played a role in his decision to attend college 10 minutes from home, at Sturm. When so many universities moved to online coursework, he could receive his associate degree in secure software development for a fraction of the cost of a four year institution.
Via Sturm, students can earn an associate degree from Arapahoe Community College and a bachelor's degree from Colorado State University.
What Allevato didn't expect was the opportunity to land a job at Lockheed Martin Space so early in his education.
He describes the pride he feels when people ask where he works, "I kind of have to keep myself calm, 'Lockheed Martin Space', cause it's such a cool position that I never thought I would have especially not at 19."
With cyber-attacks on the rise every year, Allevato's associate degree in secure software development is just the kind of training companies are looking for. Allevato works full time for Lockheed as a programmer.
He said, "It's really valuable to have cyber students, secure software students write secure code and harden systems against attacks like that."
"Lockheed Martin is really excited to partner with our local community colleges," said Lockheed Early Career Pathways Manager Kim Pham.
Demand for secure programming skills is so great, Lockheed extends offers well before graduation in order to accelerate their hires' security clearance. Pham said, "We can kick start that clearance process so by the time that they graduate with their associates, they're cleared and can start working with us full time on some of our classified programs."
Allevato is part of Lockheed's New Pathways program, and Pham said he's already making a significant contribution, while earning competitive pay and benefits that include tuition reimbursement and health care. "Partnering with our more senior engineers so that he can learn, really learn our programs and support our customers with some critical missions that we have," she added.
For Professor Nina Amey, Allevato's trajectory is exactly what Sturm's tech degree programs were created for.
Courses are taught by industry professionals serving as faculty.
"They know how to quickly implement new ideas, technologies, whatever is happening in the industry we have the ability to pull that in," Amey said. "More and more companies are realizing that it's not just a four year degree, that skill based hiring is so incredibly important particularly in the tech industry."
Building a workforce trained for what companies need now. Allevato is sold, saying "Study at Sturm, go to Sturm."
Lockheed Martin Space has hired 150 associates degree students this year, with roughly half here in Colorado.
Nearly 700 of Arapahoe Community College's grads this year completed coursework at the Sturm Collaboration Campus -- with popular degrees also including nursing and business.
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