Retirees Association

AFMC: Autism at Work brings civilian opportunities to individuals on the spectrum

Students in autism at work program

Excerpt from Air Force Material Command Public Affairs

WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE — A one-of-a-kind Air Force Materiel Command employment initiative has entered its second successful year, bringing job opportunities and growth for a unique set of college graduates who might otherwise face challenges when looking for work in today’s competitive job market.

The Autism at Work program, a collaboration between the AFMC and Wright State University, offers students and recent graduates with a diagnosis on the autism spectrum the opportunity to participate in paid, one-year internships across the Wright-Patterson Air Force Base footprint. The program provides the interns not only real-world job experiences as Air Force civilians, but it also offers them the opportunity to learn and practice soft skills such as business etiquette and communication under a team of mentors dedicated to helping them achieve success in the internship and beyond.

“This is a unique opportunity for individuals with autism to gain that critical career experience they may not have the chance to obtain in a traditional work environment,” said Molly Fore, AFMC Autism at Work program lead. “These students are smart and have degrees in areas such as science, engineering, computer technology, math and a number of other areas that are highly relevant to our mission needs. We help break down barriers to employment and work with them as they progress from interview, to job offer, placement and beyond, helping them to achieve success.”

Nearly 20 interns are at Wright-Patterson this year, working in positions ranging from mechanical engineering to computer software development, database migration, computer support, and biomedical engineering.  The interns work closely with supervisors and mentors trained to recognize and understand the unique challenges of working with the individuals and to help ensure an environment conducive to success.

“I believe that everyone, with and without a disability, needs a chance to show what they are capable of doing and should not be judged or labeled,” said Sharon Stauffer, Human Resources Management Analyst and mentor.