Last Updated: 09/12/2013*

They peered into a missile silo, poked around an A-10 Warthog’s hangar and explored India’s Taj Mahal in Raytheon’s virtual reality chamber.

After a four-week, intensive course as guests of Raytheon’s Missile Systems, 17 Brazilian students returned home with a crop of once-in-a-lifetime experiences, valuable business skills and a host of new friends on two continents.

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Students peek at a missile silo as part of the Titan Missile Museum tour.

“This was our first opportunity to be in a professional environment in the defense community,” said student Bruno Zabeu. “I learned how to work in a group and how a large corporation works. Now we have a better idea of our future.”

The students came from 16 universities as part of the Brazilian Scientific Mobility program, a scholarship initiative primarily funded by Brazil’s federal government. Raytheon participates through the company’s Science to Success program.

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Andre Mendes da Silva, student speaker for the program’s graduation ceremony, explains a systems engineering project to classmates.

The initiative seeks to strengthen and expand Brazilian education in science, technology, innovation and competitiveness by providing opportunities for international study to undergraduate and graduate researchers.
 
“It became clear to me that one of the things that I was missing was international experience. I needed to leave Brazil and learn about how it is done in other parts of the world,” student Andre Mendes da Silva said during the program’s graduation ceremony in Tucson, Ariz.

For Raytheon, the program is an unique opportunity to make a long-lasting impact on Brazilian economy and education, said Matt Riddle, president of Raytheon International, Inc.

“Here was an opportunity to take some of their brightest students and send them to learn from world-class talent at Raytheon,” Riddle said.

During the four-week course, students focused on learning key engineering skills and processes. Guest speakers gave them an overview of the defense industry and taught leadership courses.
 
The students visited plane hangars at Davis-Monthan U.S. Air Force Base and toured the nearby Titan Missile Museum, a decommissioned missile silo that has been turned into a tourist attraction.

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Students visit Davis-Monthan Air Force Base to broaden their understanding of the U.S. military (Photo: Credit U.S. Air Force)

They also visited the Pima Air and Space Museum and the Space Imagery Center at the University of Arizona’s Lunar and Planetary Laboratory.

During a visit to Raytheon’s legendary Bike Shop prototype lab, the students also took a sneak peak at developing technologies in the company’s Immersive Design Center. The center features a virtual reality chamber that engineers use to design factories and components.

“The employees are passionate and everyone is happy to talk about what they do,” Mendes da Silva said.

The Scientific Mobility program aims to graduate 100,000 promising Brazilian students and researchers through 2014.

“After spending four weeks with these students, I was so inspired by them,” said Catherine Ripley, program manager for the Raytheon Science to Success program. “They were energetic, insightful, asked meaningful questions and showed tremendous commitment, not only to their education, but to the betterment of Brazil.”

The Science to Success program ended in August with a graduation ceremony attended by Raytheon leaders, Brazilian diplomats and defense liaison officers.

The students selected Mendes da Silva to speak about their future plans.

“It is important to take these experiences back to Brazil to help create change,” he told the group. “And who better can do that than us?”

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