Northrop Grumman Corporation’s (NYSE: NOC) Sperry Marine business unit hosted a reception last Tuesday evening honoring the 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 WORTHY Day celebration allowed each of the students to present an indepth overview of the projects they worked on throughout the year.

WORTHY participants included graduating seniors Udit Chavda of Western Albemarle High School, who will seek an electrical engineering degree from Virginia Commonwealth University, and Amanda Walker of Monticello High School, who will seek degrees in biomedical engineering and forensic science from the University of Central Oklahoma. Other WORTHY participants included junior Dakota Thomsen Diggs of Monticello High School; junior Michael Trotta and sophomores Brittany Mollica and John Oliver of Albemarle High School; junior Lena Turkheimer of Charlottesville High School; and junior Tyler Rich of Western Albemarle High School.

“As one of the area’s largest employers, Northrop Grumman Sperry Marine is committed to the enhancement of the community through the WORTHY program and other local company outreach activities,” said Jeff Holloway, director of U.S. defense business development and marketing/sales for Sperry Marine, and executive sponsor of the WORTHY program. “Sperry Marine, with its strong engineering presence, is ideally suited to give these students exposure to technical subjects they could not otherwise have access to in high school.”

“My participation in the WORTHY program has helped to prepare me for the pursuit of higher education and entering the workforce,” said Walker.

“Overcoming the practical and real-life challenges of my project was very rewarding, and the guidance from my mentors has been invaluable,” Chavda added.

Audience members at the WORTHY reception included students and their families; mentors; John DeMaso, vice president and general manager of Northrop Grumman’s Naval & Marine Systems Division; J. Nolasco DaCunha, vice president of Northrop Grumman Sperry Marine; James Aylor, dean, University of Virginia School of Engineering and Applied Science; George Cahen, professor, Materials Science and Engineering, and director, Experiential Programs and Engineering Outreach, University of Virginia; and other local school representatives.

Fifteen Sperry Marine employees specializing in program management, business management, information technology and various engineering disciplines volunteered to serve as mentors. Over the course of the year, the students, with the help of their mentors, worked on a special project of their choice. Chavda’s project uses a Nintendo Wii™ remote to control a radio helicopter, and included an “autopilot” design feature used to control thrust on the helicopter so that it would hover. Walker’s project uses a Lego® Mindstorm® NXT robot light sensor to follow a solid black line and detect a change in color, triggering the robot to shoot a miniature basketball.

Initially launched in 1997 by Northrop Grumman in Baltimore, WORTHY has been expanded to six additional campuses, including Sperry Marine Charlottesville. Local organizers aim 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 four-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.