Student Programs

We cultivate a diverse, inclusive, and collaborative community...

…in which the most talented and admired students leverage the scholarship, mentorship, fellowship, sponsorship, and leadership of alumni, faculty, and staff to distinctively prepare for successful and significant careers in national security.



What is the SOAR program?

For more than 25 years, the SOAR program, formerly Open D.O.O.R., enhanced the awareness, readiness, professional network, mentorship, and sponsorship of enterprising student leaders for successful and significant careers in intelligence, defense, and space. Every year, ARL hires 35 undergraduate student leaders committed to national security for paid summer internships (including housing, meal plan, and transportation). The SOAR program is one of the most prestigious, merit-based career development programs for student leaders in America today.

What makes a competitive candidate?

We seek ambitious, introspective, and optimistic student leaders with curiosity, strong academic records, outstanding self-awareness, demonstrated leadership experience, and creative ability. Student leaders who identify with a group that is historically underrepresented in science, technology, and engineering, including but not limited to Black, Indigenous/Native American, Latinx/Hispanic, and veterans are strongly encouraged to apply.

While we encourage applications from all ambitious, well-rounded student leaders, the most competitive applicants will:

  • Have a minimum cumulative grade point average of 3.2
  • Aspire to earn a STEM graduate degree from Penn State
  • Must be a citizen or permanent resident of the United States

How are applicants selected?

The SOAR program selection committee will assess candidates based on their outstanding self-awareness, research experience, first-rate social skills, intellectual curiosity, resume, unofficial transcript, and at least one (1) letter of recommendation that details the candidate’s demonstrated commitment to the sustainable advancement of diversity, equity, inclusion, accessibility, and belonging.


The Walker Graduate Assistant Program

The Walker Graduate Assistant program helps future scientists and engineers pursuing research-based graduate degrees reach their educational and professional goals. This paid opportunity allows students to augment their studies with hands-on research in disciplines aligned with ARL’s mission.

How do I qualify?

In order to qualify for the Walker Graduate Assistant program, you must be accepted into the Penn State Graduate School. Walker students typically earn their Master of Science (MS) or Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) degrees in an engineering-related graduate program. While in the program, you’ll be based in one of Penn State’s colleges, as ARL is not a degree-granting research unit.

The most competitive candidates will achieve a GPA of 3.5 or higher (on a 4.0 scale) in their junior or senior years of their undergraduate degree.

ARL is committed to our employee’s health and well-being by supporting Penn State initiatives, local health officials, and government leaders in preventing COVID-19 in the workplace.

Our employees whose work or research can be done remotely, from home, are doing so. We have also given the opportunity of a flexible work schedule to assist our employees who have other obligations to consider. For those whose work or research requires them to be in our laboratories, offices, or on campus, we are following all protocols necessary to reduce the spread of COVID-19, including mandatory mask training, strict safety procedures, and a network of contacts for reporting any ill-feeling symptoms.

As new employees join our workforce, the above guidelines apply. 

You can be confident that we will maintain our vigilant enforcement of all COVID-19 protocols in our workplace to ensure the health and safety of everyone.

Our strength comes from our people… we are a diverse group of professionals who hail from all over this great Nation, with all kinds of experience and expertise. As a team, we will get through this together with patience, diligence, vigilance, and resilience.