Richard Jones with the 3D printer

Richard Jones in front of one of the 3D printers in the Pueo Prototyping Laboratory.

Veterans interested in careers and education involving science, technology, engineering and mathematics got a big boost at the University of Hawaiʻi—West Oʻahu. Associate Professor Richard Jones has received a $638,100 grant to create the Veterans Empowered Through STEM (VETS) program.

The three-year grant was awarded by the Office of Naval Research through a competitive process and will run through October 2021. Under the grant, Jones will be able to support student veterans who are interested in a career in a STEM-related field. He will add more 3D printers to the STEM lab, enhance and provide outreach to veterans, recruit for internships and externships and possibly fund a lounge.

“It’s leveraging what we already have,” said Jones. He sees the VETS program as having the potential to directly support and promote the transition of veterans into STEM-related career fields.

The VETS program addresses an effort by the Department of Navy to improve STEM education to ensure that a science, technology, engineering and mathematics workforce can help meet Navy and Marine Corps challenges. It also fits UH West Oʻahu’s mission of offering education addressing state, regional and international needs in an effort to increase enrollment, including attracting more veteran students.

The VETS program will be comparable to the UH Mānoa Veterans to Energy Careers (VTEC) program that guides veterans into careers in the sustainable energy industry. The VETS program will be more general than the VTEC program and may help build a pipeline to VTEC for veterans who want to focus on the sustainable energy industry.

For more on the VETS program, read the UH West Oʻahu E Kamakani Hou story.