- Associated Press - Monday, January 16, 2017

NEW ORLEANS (AP) - An apprenticeship program at the University of New Orleans has paved the way for two dozen of its students to be hired on as full-time employees at GE Digital.

The two-year-old partnership between the university and GE Digital is geared toward getting computer science students ready for the workforce.

The Software Engineering Apprenticeship Program, or SWEAP, launched in 2014. Thus far, 24 participating students have been hired and the program continues to grow, according to UNO.

“SWEAP transformed my career trajectory and opened up countless opportunities for technical and professional growth,” Allison Luzader, a GE Digital software engineer and SWEAP graduate, said in a news release.

Students are mentored by veteran software engineers and get onsite technical training at the GE Tech Center in New Orleans. Students work as paid part-time software developers, acquiring the comparable hourly pay of a junior-level position.

“During my internship, I was given many opportunities to learn from experts at the digital hub through mentorship, training and opportunities to work on real projects that matter,” Luzader said. “My transition from part-time intern to full-time employee was incredibly smooth. The skills I gained as part of the SWEAP program enabled me to hit the ground running as a full-time GE employee, and add value to the business on day one.”

SWEAP is intended to train students with the necessary technical and social skills required for many entry-level developer positions.

“SWEAP is one of our best pipelines for early-career talent at GE Digital in New Orleans,” Kevin Dawson, GE Digital New Orleans site leader and vice president of program management, said in a news release. “The quality of students from UNO is exceptional, and I believe they are the future leaders of GE and GE Digital.”

Nine other students currently in SWEAP are expected to graduate in May and are also anticipating job offers, said Mahdi Abdelguerfi, professor and chair of the UNO Department of Computer Science.

The SWEAP program aims to expand this year, with 15 UNO computer science students expected to join by summer. Since the program began, one in every four UNO computer science students among junior and senior levels have had an opportunity to participate, though GE recruits as early as sophomore level.

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Information from: New Orleans CityBusiness, https://www.neworleanscitybusiness.com

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