Internship Program Promotes Growth of STEM Jobs in Southeast

The Charleston Defense Contractors Association (CDCA) Kicks off 14th Annual Internship Program funding approximately $400K for 40 companies and more than 94 interns in the last decade

Charleston,SC–June 5, 2019– The Charleston Defense Contractors Association (CDCA)—a non-profit defense advocacy group–today announced the start of its 14th Annual Internship Program. With the defense industry generating more than $10 Billion for the Charleston region and looming labor pool shortages on the rise—the CDCA internship program is a critical workforce development component designed to support companies with technology advancements coming out of the Southeast region.

“This program creates a pipeline of experienced candidates for future defense contractor openings in the Lowcountry,” said Stella Mercado, CDCA Board of Director and co-chair of government advocacy and internship programs and CEO/founder Mercom. “Historical data supports the notion that those who participate in our program get jobs in the local defense industry, with some going to work for those they intern with and even gain scholarships.”

The internship program is designed to cultivate interest and opportunities in the Charleston region defense industry while promoting the growth of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) initiatives. Each year the group selects 10-12 member companies willing to take on interns and places candidates with these organizations. This year’s company’s include:

  • Atlas Technologies, inc.

  • Fathom4, LLC

  • KTM Solutions

  • Life Cycle Engineering

  • ManTech International Corporation

  • Netizen Corporation

  • SAIC

  • Scientific Research Corporation

  • Systems Technology Forum, Ltd

Launching with one intern in 2006, the program has grown consistently over the years to serve a total of 94 interns with paid internships. CDCA member companies who participate receive a $2,000 stipend to supplement the cost of labor for the interns. To date, these funds have totaled $348,000 and counting.

The CDCA’s first intern in 2006 went on to work in the defense industry and is now a CDCA board member. “Prior to the CDCA Internship Progarm, I had no idea what the defense industry was all about,” said Jimi Elderman, Director-Charleston Operations, Spry Methods. “This program opened my eyes to the possibilities while exposing me to my future. It is now an honor to work in a field that makes it easier for the warfighter.”

“We’ve added a new element to this year’s program by asking participating students to keep a video diary to showcase highlights from their experience,” states Mercado. “We look forward to sharing these insights to educate and encourage others considering the defense contractor industry.”

For more information please visit the CDCA website ( or email us at


Media Contacts:

Michelle Van Jura, Intersect Communications

 Joy Capps, Intersect Communications

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