Success Stories

Patrick Soloski, Naval Nuclear Laboratory

It was a personal goal for me to further my academic education after undergraduate studies, and having the opportunity to learn remotely via Virginia Engineering Online (VEO) while my career had me relocate multiple times made it simple and easy to continue learning without worrying about transferring credits from one institution to another.  In addition, I am pursuing a career with the U.S. Navy, and one of the requirements is that the candidate has a technical master’s degree.  My master’s degree in materials science is helping me grow not just my current opportunities at my company (Naval Nuclear Laboratory), but is also helping to open this door with the Navy and have the opportunity to serve my country.

The faculty and staff at UVA have been overly welcoming and helpful in my personal growth, to which I am very gracious.  I lived in Lynchburg, VA for three years for my job, and once or twice a month I would travel to Charlottesville to attend class in-person.  Faculty were always happy to have an online student participate in class, and it helped me grow my professional network.

–Patrick Soloski, Naval Nuclear Laboratory and Virginia Engineering Online Student

Bill Pfister, BWXT

My involvement with the CGEP (now Cardinal Education) includes pursuing a Master of Engineering in Electrical Engineering from The University of Virginia and a Master of Engineering Management from Old Dominion University while working at Babcock & Wilcox (now BWX technologies) in Lynchburg.  Along with completing the required courses for each degree, I was able to develop a program of study that fit my specific career interests in manufacturing automation.

In earning the two degrees, I was able to include courses from UVA, Virginia Tech, ODU, and VCU in a variety of disciplines: Electrical Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, Systems Engineering, Computer Science, Industrial Engineering, Statistics, and Engineering Management.  Access to such a diverse collection of courses would not have been possible through a single University and limited transfer credits.

Although I could take credit for making all this happen, it was made possible thanks to the people associated with the program and the universities that I have had the pleasure of knowing over the years and who contributed to the success of my studies.

–Bill Pfister

Neil McSweeney, Wiley|Wilson

Through the Commonwealth Graduate Engineering Program (now named Cardinal Education), I earned my Master’s Degree in Engineering from ODU in 1994, while working full-time for Wiley|Wilson in Lynchburg, VA. Earning an advanced degree offered numerous benefits — for myself and my firm. But like other full-time professionals, I faced the unique challenge of working in one location yet pursuing an advanced degree from a college in another location.

The CGEP closed that gap. Without this program and its distance learning technologies, connected faculty, and network of other working engineers, earning an advanced degree would have been near impossible. In the architecture-engineering industry, a Master’s degree not only offers students information about more complex technical topics, but it also provides education about project management skills and different managerial philosophies.

Earning this degree while working full-time gave me the opportunity to apply the abstract concepts I was learning to real-life projects I was already working on. I gained a more complete understanding of the engineering field and that has undoubtedly contributed to my growth in the firm. I credit the CGEP for playing a central role in my career advancement. The benefits of this program can’t be overstated.

– Neil E. McSweeney, PE, Chief Executive Officer

Liz Povar, The Riverlink Group

A historical higher-education innovator, CGEP continues to build on its legacy of broadening the opportunities for graduate education in the STEM fields.  By efficiently delivering access in every corner of the Commonwealth, the student pipeline is increased and employers have a deeper pool of talent from which to draw. 

CGEP efficiently delivers quality education in a flexible format to meet the needs of today’s businesses.  As a consulting firm focused on building capacity in rural Virginia, the RiverLink Group values the opportunity to share the CGEP story with our business and education clients.

-Liz Povar, Principal, The Riverlink Group 

Dahlgren Naval Base

CGEP has been a great asset to the Navy for many years. CGEP’s graduate engineering programs at the University of Mary Washington’s Dahlgren campus keep our employees on the job as they earn their advanced degrees, and allow them to tailor their curriculum to include specialized courses from all the member universities – something other graduate programs do not provide. As our mission and employee base in Dahlgren grows, we’ll look even more to CGEP to meet our needs for advanced degrees in new and evolving scientific and engineering disciplines.


The partnership of top tier universities in CGEP and the unique ability for students to take pertinent classes across the membership provides a great opportunity to our engineers. This creates an avenue of personal development to aid in attracting and retaining engineering workforce in Virginia.