GD Electric Boat seeks diverse pros for submarine work
New naval contracts and lifecycle responsibilities for current submarines make Electric Boat a busy shipbuilder that seeks a wide range of engineers
General Dynamics Electric Boat (Groton, CT) is hiring experienced engineers to build the next generation of deterrent submarines. New government contracts awarded in January 2013 commit $4.6 billion for the design and development of U.S. Navy submarines.
Initial estimates are that 195 engineers will be hired, but that could change as funding becomes available. “Last year our estimate was 300 engineers and we hired 377,” says Bob Hamilton, director of communications. “With federal financial issues, we don’t know exactly what the numbers will be,” but the new contracts will dictate substantial hiring.
Electric Boat has been designing and building submarines since 1900, when it built the USS Holland, the U.S. Navy’s first commissioned undersea warship. Currently, it produces Virginia-class, Seawolf-class, SSGN Ohio-class, Los Angeles-class, and other nuclear submarines. Electric Boat handles everything from new construction, engineering and design, maintenance and modernization, and commercial services, to full lifecycle support.
Electric Boat has delivered a long line of first-of-a-kind ships to the Navy. The expertise and innovation required for submarine production get the company involved in related businesses such as naval surface ship and commercial nuclear programs.
Electric Boat’s headquarters covers 118 acres and includes over 400,000 square feet of work space; additional facilities are located in Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Hawaii and Washington, DC.
Upcoming projects at Electric Boat
Under a five-year, $1.85 billion Ohio replacement program contract, Electric Boat will do R&D for this new class of ballistic-missile submarine, scheduled for a 2021 construction start. Additionally, the company will continue development of the joint U.S. Navy/Royal Navy Common Missile Compartment for Ohio replacement submarines and the U.K. successor-class ballistic missile submarine. The potential value of this contract is $1.995 billion.
Electric Boat received a $2.5 billion award to build two Virginia-class submarines, South Dakota and Delaware, the seventeenth and eighteenth ships of the class. Construction of Virginia-class submarines is shared between prime contractor Electric Boat and teammate Newport News Shipbuilding.
Electric Boat will also receive $308 million to purchase long lead time materials for three yet-unnamed Virginia-class submarines. To fulfill all these contracts, Electric Boat is looking for experienced mechanical, electrical, civil or structural, aerospace or aeronautical, chemical, acoustics, computer science, marine and ocean engineers and naval architects. Specific job descriptions are posted through the careers tab on the website.
Tapping a diverse applicant pool
Electric Boat recruiters look for minority candidates at career fairs and through association with minority engineering organizations. Four Electric Boat engineers were honored with 2013 Black Engineer of the Year Awards, and company engineers have also been honored at past Women of Color conferences. The company’s Black Engineering Council and Women in Defense chapter support minority employees. The company sends representatives to the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers conferences, Society of Women Engineers career fairs, National Society of Black Engineers conventions, Hire the Disabled career expo, and Black Engineer of the Year conference.
The Women in Defense New England Shoreline chapter was organized in 2009 by a few Electric Boat employees. It has since grown to more than 100 members, including women from uniformed services like the Navy Recruiting Command, the Naval Undersea Warfare Center and the U.S. Coast Guard.
“Women can tell each other how to be successful,” says Cheryl J. Stergio, human resources manager for equal employment opportunity-affirmative action. “These organizations show our employees how to get to that next level.”
Electric Boat reaches out to college students and new grads at more than fifty college and university campuses, and works with its business resource groups to fund scholarships. Electric Boat funds an engineering scholarship through the Hispanic Alliance of Southeast Connecticut. The first recipient of that award has applied for an Electric Boat internship in 2013. That’s just what Electric Boat wants. “We hope the students who win scholarships will come back and work for us someday,” says Stergio.
Growth programs for those on board
Once at Electric Boat, employees who aspire to management ranks can receive support and training. The company provides tuition reimbursement. Its Future Leaders and Business Leaders groups encourage minority employees to connect with senior management and move into those roles. Several employees have become corporate directors through that program. As more minority employees participate in the EB Management Association, more will be prepared to take on management roles. “Many are managers right now,” says Hamilton. “It will not be long before you see them at the highest levels.”
Electric Boat offers early career employees a rotational professional development program. About 125 young engineers are participating this year, working in various business areas to get a broader perspective of the company’s activities.
“We want to make sure women and minorities are getting into that middle management feeder pool, where they get the experience they need to move up even further,” says Stergio.
Electric Boat engineers are active in community programs. “Our engineers are volunteers,” says Hamilton. They participate in the University of Connecticut’s School of Engineering Bridge program, a five-week summer program that prepares incoming students for the rigors of the engineering curriculum, and in a similar program at the University of Rhode Island. They are involved in the Connecticut Invention Convention, a year-long program that encourages interest in STEM fields among elementary school students; Electric Boat engineers judge student projects. Electric Boat engineers also serve as core advisers to the FIRST Robotics Conneticut regional competition. In fact, one former FIRST Robotics participant is now an Electric Boat engineer who advises a local chapter.
construction and support