Va. Space, ESCC ink unique internship agreement

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PHOTO COURTESY BILL LECATO/EASTERN SHORE COMMUNITY COLLEGE Virginia Space Chief Executive Officer and Executive Director Roosevelt “Ted” Mercer Jr., left, and ESCC President Jim Shaeffer hold the signed memorandum of understanding

STAFF REPORT —

The Virginia Commercial Space Flight Authority and Eastern Shore Community College have formally partnered in an internship program that is the authority’s first with a college of any size. 

Virginia Space Chief Executive Officer and Executive Director Roosevelt “Ted” Mercer Jr. and ESCC  President Jim Shaeffer signed a memorandum of understanding at ESCC’s Melfa campus formally establishing the professional internship program. 

Virginia Space has hosted ESCC interns for the last several years, but the MOU cements the relationship between the two organizations to give students the opportunity to hone their skills by working side-by-side with engineers and other technical professionals at the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport. 

“It’s a true privilege to work with our ESCC student interns,” said Mercer. “Signing this MOU demonstrates our commitment to our continuing partnership with ESCC to foster valuable learning and employment opportunities that drive economic and educational development on the Eastern Shore.” 

This is Virginia Space’s first MOU with an institution of higher learning. The agreement is a testament to the benefits realized by both organizations during the years of collaboration. Virginia Space hopes that it will inspire formal collaboration with other institutions of higher learning.

“The signing of this MOU is extremely significant for our two organizations,” said Shaeffer. “We aim to provide good jobs, particularly in the aerospace industry. This enables students to become job ready as they enter the workforce. Eastern Shore Community College provides residents in underserved areas on the Eastern Shore an opportunity to do well and thrive in their own community.” 

Virginia Space, a political subdivision of the Commonwealth of Virginia, owns and operates the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport, which includes three launch pads, a payload processing facility, and other facilities that enable the launch of small- and mid-size rockets for commercial, government, scientific, and academic users. One of only four spaceports in the United States capable of vertical launches to orbit, Virginia Space contributes to assured access to space for the United States. 

More than 20% of Virginia Space’s workforce is composed of former interns from ESCC and other universities. 

The ESCC partnership will continue to bring local students into the STEM and aerospace industry, benefiting and growing the skilled workforce on the Eastern Shore.

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