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From VMI to Pioneering Defense Technologies at DEVCOM: Jonathan Tumwikirize '24

This article is part of The Next Step series. While the four years at VMI are designed for cadets to push themselves academically, physically, and mentally to tackle the demands of life at a premiere military college, they also prepare cadets for life after graduation. Whether that life be one in the military or one in the private sector, VMI faculty and staff provide guidance to cadets along their journeys. One department specifically dedicated to that endeavor of post-Institute success is the Office of Career Services. In The Next Step series, we highlight cadets preparing to enter the workforce after graduation, as well as those still in the midst of their cadetship preparing for internships over the summer. 

LEXINGTON, Va. May 29, 2024 — Jonathan Tumwikirize ’24 wanted to gain firsthand experience in a military environment, while also getting his degree. It’s what drew him to Virginia Military Institute and allowed him to explore federal-civilian positions to pursue upon graduation.  

The recent graduate from Ashburn, Virginia, majored in electrical and computer engineering and minored in mathematics, and he has accepted a position at the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command (DEVCOM) Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Cyber, Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (C5ISR) Center. DEVCOM is an information technologies and integrated systems center that develops technologies for the U.S. Army to use on platforms: from soldier to ground vehicle, and from air to space. 

“DEVCOM’s reputable contributions to advancing defense capabilities aligned perfectly with my career aspirations,” he said. “Their cutting-edge technology was frequently a talking -point in my electrical and computer engineering classes.” 

Tumwikirize said he applied to a handful of engineering positions but found that DEVCOM’s eagerness to find potential leaders was the most attractive thing about the position and work environment. Jonathan Tumwikirize ’24

“They offered a dynamic and forward-thinking environment where employees can collaborate with top talents, take on complex challenges, and have a tangible impact on national security,” he said. “Besides their unmatched employee benefits and great location, they provide a similar environment to VMI: they are committed to nurturing the growth of their engineers.” 

At DEVCOM, he will be an electrical engineer specializing in embedded software, where he will be contributing to the company’s countermine division by deriving technologies and strategies that contribute to directly saving lives and enhancing mission effectiveness. 

He plans on pursuing a master's in electrical and computer engineering at Virginia Tech. 

“As technology continues to grow in complexity, the need for individuals with refined skills also expands; complex solutions require subject matter experts,” he said. “A master’s degree allows me the opportunity to gain specialized knowledge, demonstrate leadership potential, and cultivate my overall ability to support the nation's critical technological objectives.”  

VMI providing a strong path for success 

Tumwikirize said that with VMI Career Services, there were several opportunities to engage with various employers on post. He said he had met with an operations specialist from DEVCOM through a career fair held at VMI, who then assisted him in his job searching, making the process seamless.  

“I also wrote my first resume through career services, often sitting down and refining each statement to articulate my skillsets and potential,” he said. 

The foundation he received by attending VMI has allowed him to prosper. Shortly after joining the Rat Line, his leadership journey began with the responsibilities of a corporal.  

“Through various leadership positions, I have been able to experiment and develop leadership methodologies that are optimal for a variety of scenarios,” he said. “VMI has given me the opportunity to develop integrity, adaptability, resilience, empathy, and effective communication through their leadership course and positions in cadet government.” 

The inspiration for his path stems from his parents, who contributed to the United States Agency for International Development expatriate work. From that, Tumwikirize was exposed to a plethora of international affairs and the need for innovation within the defense community.  

“Exposed to the harsh reality of instability of five different countries, I often witnessed disastrous events commonly catalyzed by unsettling and armed extremists,” he said. “The unique exposure sparked my interest in contributing to global solutions within the defense community.” 

It also played into why he chose the electrical and computer engineering track. When he was younger, he had an interest in computers, but found that tinkering with various operating systems was what he found to be challenging. 

With the achievement of graduating from VMI, he said it exemplifies one’s resolute commitment to serve. It also served as an aid to him finding exemplary employment.  

"Only individuals who have experienced a cadetship at VMI know the tenacity in everything required to graduate,” he said. “This immediate recognition from alumni was a drastic competitive advantage in my job search. Alumni are familiar with the characteristics required to be successful within such a rigorous environment, and they desire the same type of people within their network.” 

His hope for the next decade is to become a seasoned engineer and leader. 

“I aspire to guide teams that foster groundbreaking solutions and lead individuals that have an unyielding commitment to advancing defense solutions,” he said. “I aspire to achieve collective goals in my career such as navigating complex engineering challenges, completing my master’s degree, and a decade of resilient service to the nation.” 

Laura Peters Shapiro
Communications & Marketing
VIRGINIA MILITARY INSTITUTE

VMI: Forging 21st Century Leaders