Business, industry, other educational institutions, local governments, and the U.S. government offer grants and contracts for help in solving real-world problems. Through the LeTourneau University Office of Sponsored Programs (OSP), students have the opportunity to join these projects as research assistants. Many students have participated in projects in the fields of biomedical, mechanical, electrical and materials joining engineering, biology, chemistry, physics, and business, going on to great jobs in business, industry or to pursue graduate studies. Participating students overwhelmingly agree that the projects they worked on "benefited me in my academic career."
The OSP assists faculty and staff members in preparing proposals to potential sponsors of contracts and grants and provides administrative management for resulting projects. These grants and contracts provide opportunities for faculty, staff, and students to develop professional skills, apply theory to solving real-world problems, and encourage their commitment to life-long learning and scholarly inquiry. In short, our graduates are better prepared to realize LETU’s vision of “Every Workplace. Every Nation.”
Working under the direct supervision of the faculty/staff member, student research assistants receive either pay or academic credit for work performed. Students have the opportunity to work with their professors in an employee-employer relationship that is similar to relationships they will encounter after graduation. Another potential benefit to students is the prospect of developing a relationship with project sponsors that could lead to future employment. Recent survey research by the NACE shows that more and more entry level positions are being filled by applicants that previously worked as an intern with that employer. While these projects are not internships, the potential exists for developing a relationship with an industrial sponsor to demonstrate skills and abilities leading to funding for graduate work.
Previous and current project sponsors include: National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), National Science Foundation (NSF), National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Navy, A.O. Smith, Westinghouse, GRACO, Rockwell Collins, American Iron and Steel Institute, Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board Advanced Technology Program, Morton-Thiokol, Trinity Industries, Tennessee Department of Transportation, Lone Star Steel, Stemco, Welch Foundation, the City of Longview and numerous other industiral sponsors.