Northrop Grumman Corporation’s (NYSE: NOC) Sperry Marine business unit hosted a reception Tuesday evening honoring the parents of students participating in Northrop Grumman’s WORTHY (Worthwhile To Help High School Youth) mentoring and scholarship program.

Designed to encourage and advance program participants’ pursuit of technical degrees, the WORTHY program provides on-the-job experience and improved access to secondary education. This year’s participants include returning Western Albemarle High School student Udit Chavda, and Monticello High School students Amanda Walker and Dakota Thomsen-Diggs, along with Brittany Mollica and John Oliver, both sophomores at Albemarle High School, and Tyler Rich, Michael Trotta, and Lena Turkheimer, juniors at Western Albemarle, Albemarle, and Charlottesville High School, respectively.

“The value of hands-on-learning with a mentor is significant for these students as they shift their intellectual focus from reception and retention of knowledge to the creation of knowledge,” said John DeMaso, vice president and general manager of Northrop Grumman’s Naval and Marine Systems Division. “In this program, experience is used to teach and nurture the art and skills of creativity through engineering.”

“At Northrop Grumman Sperry Marine, we believe students who are engaged and are also learning by doing, are destined to become visionaries on the cutting edge of their respective professions,” said Jeff Holloway, director of U.S. defense business development and marketing/sales for Sperry Marine, and executive sponsor of the WORTHY program. “This experience will allow them to enhance what they’ve learned in the classroom by bringing fresh insights to their subject areas and making connections among disciplines.”

Audience members at the WORTHY reception included students and their families; mentors; Jim Henderson, assistant superintendent, Charlottesville City Schools; Jeff Prillaman, director, Albemarle Math, Engineering and Science Academy; Carolyn Vallas, director, Center for Diversity in Engineering, University of Virginia; and special guests J. Nolasco DaCunha, vice president of Sperry Marine, and Pam Moran, superintendent of Albemarle County Schools.

Sixteen Northrop Grumman Sperry Marine employees specializing in program management, business management, information technology, and various engineering disciplines have volunteered to serve as mentors. Over the course of the year, the students, with the help of their mentors, work on a special project of their choosing. For example, Lena Turkheimer is researching ways to improve intersection traffic flow by making a working model of an intersection with incorporated light sensors, while Dakota Thomsen-Diggs is building an electronically controlled boat that drives on land, and has a ping sensor to sense objects in its path.

Initially launched in 1997 by Northrop Grumman in Baltimore, WORTHY has now been expanded to five additional campuses, including Sperry Marine Charlottesville where the company aims to recruit approximately five new students each year. In order to be eligible for the program, rising high school sophomores and juniors must be residents of and attend a public high school within the Albemarle County or Charlottesville City limits, maintain a 3.0+ grade point average (GPA) during the course of the program, and have earned a 3.0+ GPA for at least two consecutive semesters prior to applying. Participants are also required to submit a three-part essay, provide a letter of recommendation from a school counselor or community leader and be eligible to obtain a U.S. Department of Defense security clearance. Mentors must also apply and pass a background check.

Northrop Grumman Sperry Marine, headquartered in Charlottesville, Va., and with major engineering and support offices in New Malden, United Kingdom and Hamburg, Germany, provides smart navigation and ship control solutions for the international marine industry with customer service and support through offices in 16 countries, sales representatives in 47 countries and authorized service depots in more than 250 locations worldwide.

Northrop Grumman Corporation is a leading global security company whose 120,000 employees provide innovative systems, products, and solutions in aerospace, electronics, information systems, shipbuilding and technical services to government and commercial customers worldwide.