Guest Blog: HERL Trains Vets in Manufacturing


February 24, 2016

Dr. Rory Cooper (left), Director of HERL, talking with a veteran in his program.

We at the Human Engineering Research Laboratories (HERL) – a partnership between the University of Pittsburgh and VA Pittsburgh Healthcare System – take great pride in our work with Veterans. Our efforts are aimed at improving every aspect of their lives and the lives of their families, whether through programs to assist with the transition from the military to enrollment in STEM-related fields of study, or research that will improve their level of satisfaction and participation in everyday life activities.

To achieve these objectives, HERL has established partnerships with local, state, and national non-profit organizations (including the Disabled Veterans National Foundation) in order to provide high-quality programs aimed at easing Veterans’ transition to academic and career opportunities.

Specifically, HERL has three Veteran-centered programs:

  • Experiential Learning for Veterans in Assistive Technology and Engineering (ELeVATE)
    • A 10-week, three-phase program designed to assist wounded, injured, and ill veterans with transitioning from the military to a college/university STEM program of study
    • Program includes college preparation, professional development, and social activities designed to facilitate preparation for the rigors associated with STEM research
  • Advancing Inclusive Manufacturing (AIM)
    • A 12-week program for Veterans interested in careers in machining/assistive technology
    • Program focuses on the fundamentals of machining, welding, prototyping, measurement, and assistive technology
    • Upon completion, trainees receive a Basics of Assistive Technology Fabrication Certificate from HERL and can pursue full-time opportunities in the machining or assistive technology sectors
  • Research Experience for Veterans and Teachers (REV-T)
    • An 8-week program that pairs Veterans with middle and high school teachers in designing innovative assistive technology products
    • REV-T supports and enhances Veterans’ potential to pursue careers in the engineering and technology fields, and immerses middle and high school teachers in research that will promote the use of engineering and technological innovations in their classrooms

All Veterans with disabilities qualify for these programs, and no other particular background is required. Applications can be submitted any time at; participants may be eligible for stipends, housing allowances, and financial aid. For more information, visit the HERL website or contact HERL at

We are helping to rebuild lives, and through our relationships with innovative organizations around the country, we are changing the way we approach giving back to veterans.