This Wednesday, the Career Center will be holding its semi-annual Career Fair in the May Room. Every semester, employers in both the private and public sector come to our school to peddle jobs and internships to undergraduate students. As you go from table to table talking to companies about the opportunities for college students, you will consistently find that many of the highest paying jobs are for engineering students.

If you look even closer, you find that the majority of engineering jobs available at the career fair are with companies in the defense industry, or what President Dwight D. Eisenhower dubbed the “military industrial complex.” This refers to the combined interests of the U.S. Armed Forces, political interests and corporations who promote, develop and build weapons technology.

President Eisenhower warned against this military industrial complex in his 1961 farewell address – “In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.”

This semester, major players in this complex, including Northrop Grumman, Picatinny Arsenal and ITT Space Systems will be recruiting at the career fair.

The third largest defense contractor in the country, Northrop Grumman, received over $22 billion dollars in revenue in the 2004 fiscal year. In return, Grumman helped to equip the U.S. Armed Forces with the most advanced military technology in the world, including the B-2 stealth bomber – at $2 billion per plane – the F-14 fighter, the unmanned Global Hawk and amphibious assault ships.

Weapons such as the B-2 and the amphibious assault ships were critical in the “active combat” stage of the war in Iraq – before the mission was “accomplished” – when the U.S. Armed Forces launched 50,000 bombs and missiles.

In addition to winning lucrative defense contracts, Northrop Grumman has been implicated in numerous corporate scandals. In 2003, they paid a $111.2 million settlement because a subsidiary, TRW, overcharged the government throughout the 1990’s for space systems.

Another subsidiary, Vinnell Corporation, recently received criticism for their failed training of the Iraqi National Army, for which they received $48 million. They did such an awful job that the Jordanian Army has since taken over the training.

However, the icing on the cake would have to be Northrop Grumman’s insiders at the White House. Seven former officials, consultants or shareholders of Northrop Grumman have held senior positions in the Bush White House including Former Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz, Former Vice-Presidential Chief of Staff I. Lewis Libby, Pentagon Comptroller Dov Zakheim and Sean O’Keefe, Director of NASA.

In 1999, Northrop Grumman was the sixth largest defense contractor, with defense revenue of $5.7 billion. An increase of over $16 billion in annual defense revenues in a seven-year span as well as many connections to the Bush administration may be just a coincidence – or, it might be exactly what President Eisenhower warned us of 45 years ago.

Having researched their material as well as unaffiliated sources, it is apparent that a more honest profile must be available as an alternative to the one offered at the Northrop Grumman career fair table.

So, next week, as you peruse the job opportunities, remember to think critically about where you might work. Many of the companies, including Northrop Grumman, Picatinny Arsenal and ITT Industries Space Systems are a part of the military industrial complex. They are in the business of developing technology for the purpose of killing people and, in this business, they will use any means necessary, whether bribery, donations, or punditry, to acquire and maintain their power.

Ladon can be reached

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