About STRAC Institute

Our mission is to provide our students with a clear path to a valuable career in electronics.

By combining coursework with hands-on training, STRAC students quickly master industry skills and earn certifications that make them highly valuable to employers. Our five-month training program is a viable alternative to traditional two and four-year college degree programs for adults who are beginning their career or transitioning to a new one. Graduates of our electronics school stand out as leaders, empowered to contribute to the success of their company, family, and self.


STRAC Institute’s Certified Electronics Training program fulfills an important need in our economy today – providing well-trained, qualified job candidates to companies in the fast-growing electronics industry that need employees with specialized skills that aren’t being taught in traditional two and four-year degree programs. We partner with employers to ensure our program trains students in the skills companies require, on the same equipment used on the job. From training to job placement, our program is designed to ensure a good fit between employee and employer, leading to a sustained partnership.


STRAC Institute’s training program was born out of one veteran’s desire to build a business that would allow him to continue to serve his country and help his fellow veterans. In 2009, John Shepard founded Veterans Assembled Electronics to fulfill Department of Defense contracts for modernizing electronics on legacy systems. Intent on hiring disabled veterans to perform the design and manufacturing required, Shepard created a specialized curriculum to train veterans in skills essential to the electronics industry.

In March 2020, after having graduated more than 365 disabled veterans, Veterans Assembled Electronics opened its doors to non-veteran students for the first time and became STRAC Institute.


The name “STRAC” reflects our military roots. It’s both an acronym for “Skills Training And Certification” but also army slang for a well-organized, well-turned out soldier who can be depended on for good performance in any circumstance. That’s the kind of employee we work hard to forge, and the type of person our graduates become after completing our immersive, hands-on training program under the guidance of our certified instructors —  all of whom have industry experience.


We’re proud of the recognition we’ve received for our service:

  • U.S. Department of Labor HIRE Vets Platinum Medallion (2020, 2021)
  • U.S. Department of Labor HIRE Vets Gold Medallion (2019)
  • Rhode Island Regional Office of Disabled American Veterans Small Employer of the Year (2020)
  • Small Business Administration of New England Veteran-Owned Small Business of the Year (2018)
STRAC awards - U.S. Department of Labor HIRE Vets, Rhode Island DAV, SBA of New England

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Our Team

John Shepard


John Shepard started his career in sales with IBM and has over 35 years of executive management experience in the technology industry. Prior to starting Veterans Assembled Electronics (now STRAC Institute) in 2009, John co-founded a network firewall company and founded an early biometric authentication company that pioneered a new password technology. John served with the 101st Airborne Division, is a Vietnam combat veteran, and holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Business Administration from the University of Rhode Island.

Michael Videira


Michael Videira joined STRAC Institute in 2017 as Chief Financial Officer and today serves as STRAC’s President. He drives the vision for the company to create energy, engage talent, and deliver results.

Before joining STRAC Institute, Michael was a Manager at Ernst & Young, working with both large publicly traded companies and small, closely held businesses in the assurance practice. With over eight years in public accounting and transaction advisory services, Michael has a broad perspective on the challenges companies face and solutions to overcome them.

Michael received his Accounting degree with Honors from the University of Rhode Island, magna cum laude. In the summer of 2008, he studied at Zhongnan University of Economics and Law in Wuhan, China. He is a Certified Public Accountant and a member of the Rhode Island Society of CPAs. Outside of the office, Michael enjoys spending time with his wife and four kids biking, fishing, and golfing.

Zachary Barrett


Along with a Mechanical Engineering degree from the University of Rhode Island, Zach Barrett has a background in several electromechanical fields. Zach served as the lead engineer and subject matter expert for the modernization of weapon subassemblies under STRAC Institute’s contract with the U.S. Department of Defense. Zach also designed, manufactured, and validated multiple test sets for this contract.

Following completion of the contract, Zach began work as the Director of Curriculum Development for STRAC Institute, which remains his primary focus today. Zach coordinates with numerous employers in the electronics field to determine, evaluate, and incorporate into the curriculum changes that represent the evolving demands of today’s high-tech industries. During this process, Zach expands the scope of training by adding new industry certifications and hands-on skills to our Certified Electronics Technician career training program.