Georgia Tech-Savannah Recognizes Local Veterans with Awards

November 12, 2015 | By Danielle Goss

SAVANNAH - November 12, 2015 - As part of its Veterans Day celebration held Nov. 10, Georgia Tech-Savannah honored recipients of the November Faces of Manufacturing Award, Army veteran Stephen Hilliard and Air Force Reservist Chris Lucas. The award honors hard-working, dedicated people throughout the state of Georgia who work within or are affected by manufacturing companies.

Hilliard is director of product development for Blue Force Gear, a manufacturer of military weapon slings and load carriage equipment. Lucas works at JCB as production manager for the fabrication department, where his team has produced more than 900 high mobility engineer excavators (HMEEs) for the military. By working for these companies and on these particular product lines, both Hilliard and Lucas said the most important thing for them is continuing to serve their country.

“While I am always excited to present a Faces of Manufacturing Award to those who showcase manufacturing’s impact on Georgia communities, I am especially pleased to be presenting November’s award to two veterans,” said Karen Fite, director of the Georgia Manufacturing Extension Partnership (GaMEP). “They are an inspiration to their country, communities, companies, families and the future of manufacturing, and we thank them for their continued service.”

In addition to the Faces of Manufacturing Award, the more than 100 people in attendance also learned how Georgia Tech helps veterans transition back into the Coastal Georgia workforce. 

“Anything we do for our veterans is special, but helping them find employment after leaving the service is especially helpful for both them and us,” said U.S. Rep. Buddy Carter. “Veterans are dedicated, well-trained, and highly-skilled employees and are an asset to any organization.”

Georgia Tech-Savannah launched its Veterans Training and Transition (VET2) program to help returning veterans translate military values into a successful civilian career and support those looking to make Georgia their home. The VET2 initiative — among the first of its kind in the nation — can be a fully funded program where there are no costs for service members.

At the end of the four-week course, participants not only earn a professional certificate from a world-renowned academic institution, but they are also well positioned to obtain a civilian job.

“Georgia Tech has been providing experiential learning opportunities to students for 100 years, so it only makes sense to bring those unique benefits to both the service member and employer by way of the VET2 program,” said Nelson Baker, dean of Georgia Tech Professional Education. “Service members receive education and experience for their resume and the opportunity to network with cohort members and the employer. The employer gains a decreased cost of hiring and onboarding, an extended interview process, a strategic partnership with Georgia Tech and possibly a reliable and dependable employee.”

Over the next three years, as many as 60,000 military members are expected to return to Georgia. Already, 770,000 veterans call Georgia home; in fact, the Peach State is home to the fourth-largest population of veterans nationwide. In addition to those returning to Georgia, more than 10,000 service members will be transitioning from the state’s army installations, 4,000 from Ft. Stewart alone.  


Georgia Tech Professional Education is an academic division of the Georgia Institute of Technology, offering professional master's degrees, short courses, and certificate programs to meet the needs of working professionals and industry partners. Programs are available at the Georgia Tech Global Learning Center in Atlanta, the Georgia Tech-Savannah campus, and worldwide through a variety of formats. In addition to professional course offerings, the division manages meeting and event facilities, and administers K-12 outreach and English as a Second Language programs. Last year alone, Georgia Tech Professional Education served individuals representing more than 3,000 companies, with an enrollment of more than 26,000. For more information, please visit:


Faces of Manufacturing honors hard-working, dedicated people throughout the state of Georgia who work within or are affected by manufacturing companies. The individual stories, featuring one “Face” per month, showcase manufacturing’s impact on Georgia communities, continue to promote manufacturing as a thriving industry within the state, and provide insight into the exciting careers it offers. Faces of Manufacturing was developed by the Georgia Manufacturing Extension Partnership (GaMEP) at Georgia Tech and is supported by Georgia Tech, organizations and companies across Georgia, our partners, and our national sponsor, NIST MEP. For more information, please visit: or