Not only is the president of Boeing Commercial Airplanes a graduate of state universities and training programs, but the company that he oversees depends upon skilled workers for its success. With that in mind, Boeing donated a jet engine from a 747 on Friday to Everett Community College’s Aviation Maintenance Technician School as a training tool for future aviation mechanics.
“Education is at the root of what makes a community a success,” Carson told a few dozen people who gathered Friday for the hand-over of the Boeing engine.
Carson made his comments the day after Boeing solidified an agreement to buy out 787 supplier Vought Aircraft Industries’ factory in South Carolina. The deal has triggered concerns that the company could locate a second 787 production line elsewhere. The company previously has expressed concerns over the state’s business climate, its unionized work force and its lack of continued investment in education.
But on Friday, Boeing’s Carson, Gov. Chris Gregoire and union leaders focused on the positives that would come out of Boeing’s donation. The community college’s Aviation Maintenance Technician School, which opened 40 years ago, has more than 70 students and is certified by the Federal Aviation Administration.
The program depends on the support of businesses such as Boeing, said David Beyer, president of the community college. Engines, such as the Pratt & Whitney JT9D engine donated by Boeing, would have cost the community college millions of dollars.
Partnerships between government, business, labor and education are essential to keeping Washington’s aerospace community vibrant, said Tom Wroblewski, local president of the Machinists union. In an attempt to lure aerospace companies such as Boeing, others states have stepped up their education efforts, Wroblewski said.
But “classroom training is no substitute for hands-on training,” Wroblewski said.
Two community college students, Jennifer Wahl and Curtis Burke, welcomed the jet engine. Burke, who retired from the U.S. Navy, hopes to land a job with Boeing after he finishes his second year at the school shortly. Wahl, already a Boeing employee, will get a chance to work on the newly donated engine.
“We don’t have anything of this size and magnitude,” she said.
Gov. Gregoire, who formed a council earlier this year with the goal of keeping the state’s aerospace industry healthy, noted Boeing and Carson’s commitment to education in the state.
“We all share an interest in being the best in the global aerospace market,” Gregoire said.
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