Entrance to California State University San Marcos.
Entrance to California State University San Marcos. Photo by Chris Stone

A Cal State San Marcos program that helps student veterans find careers in sustainable energy has received a $6 million grant from the U.S. Department of Defense, a university spokesman said Thursday.

The grant to Veterans to Energy Careers (VTEC) from the Office of Naval Research covers three years and doubles the university’s initial funding amount.

The grant “is a reflection of the success that VTEC has enjoyed in placing student veterans into internships that lead to energy careers as well as a desire by (the Office of Naval Research) to expand the program to a wider swath of the country,” CSUSM officials said in a news release.

“One of the things that’s really beautiful about this grant is that we will be able to help that many more student veterans capitalize on their prior enlisted skill sets and put them to use with their academic major choice and future career,” said Dr. Paul Tontz, Veteran Services director at CSUSM. “Another benefit is that this funding really highlights Cal State San Marcos’ role in helping student veterans and military-connected students prepare for a life of giving back in meaningful ways.”

The original $3 million grant, in 2018, required VTEC to place at least 30 student veterans into internships at any given time. The new grant, which began Aug. 1, increases the internship number to 50.

VTEC is an outgrowth of a similar initiative to engage student veterans in energy system technology evaluation projects. Through VTEC, student veterans receive paid internships in sustainable energy research labs, while also learning job-finding skills.

“There was a desire to bridge what veterans are doing in their academic courses with their military experience and put them on a trajectory to a career,” Tontz said.

Since 2018, VTEC has placed 40 CSUSM student veterans.

–City News Service