Boeing exec urges more science, math emphasis in schools

EVERETT — The need to increase the number of graduates in science, technology, engineering and math is near and dear to the Boeing Co.

“This is more than a state and local issue, it’s a national issue,” Scott Fancher, vice president of airplane development for Boeing Commercial Airplanes, told about 500 people on Thursday.

Fancher spoke at a fundraising event downtown for the Everett Public Schools Foundation. Boeing employee Craig Sunderland is the president of the foundation’s executive board.

Through 2018, there will be 2.4 million jobs created in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields in this country, Fancher said. But as many as 75 percent of high school students today don’t complete basic algebra.

Washington has the highest concentration of jobs in STEM fields in the nation, he said. In coming years, however, as many as 30,000 of those jobs will go unfilled because the state isn’t graduating enough students from colleges to keep up. That could lead to a loss of economic activity, Fancher said.

Gary Cohn, superintendent of the Everett Public Schools, also supports the push for STEM achievement.

Everett’s economy no longer runs on paper and pulp, Cohn said. Last year’s closing of the town’s last mill, owned by Kimberly-Clark, demonstrates the need to change focus in education.

State lawmakers and aerospace interest groups have stepped up training and STEM education activity in recent years. For example, officials from the Arlington School District and the state Aerospace Joint Apprenticeship Committee were to hold an open house Friday morning at the high school to discuss an initiative to increase aerospace training in the Arlington area. The committee teaches a machining apprenticeship course at Arlington High School and will start a new program there this summer.

“With the increase in Arlington’s aerospace and advance manufacturing sector, it is imperative that we address the issues of a qualified work force,” Barb Tolbert, mayor of Arlington, said in a written statement.

Boeing’s need for qualified engineers and machinists is at the heart of the company’s STEM push. The company is engaged in efforts with students and schools around the country, Fancher said. Boeing also lobbies for STEM education.

As the country’s top exporter, employing nearly 174,000 people worldwide, “we have a large voice from a policy standpoint,” Fancher said.

Boeing is focused on getting kids excited about math and technology at an early age. For Fancher, a childhood project that involved researching clean water spurred his interest in engineering. Fancher gained confidence in his own abilities once technology was “de-mystified” for him.

The aerospace company supports and participates in a variety of STEM-related programs, such as FIRST Robotics, a space camp for teachers and mentoring in schools.

“STEM is about making an investment in the future,” Fancher said. “We at Boeing consider this to be a major priority.”

Michelle Dunlop: 425-339-3454; mdunlop@heraldnet.com.

More in Herald Business Journal

Peoples, HomeStreet banks bump lowest salaries after tax cut

The banks with Snohomish County branches will raise minimum salaries for employees to $15 an hour.

In this Dec. 20, 2017, photo, a clerk reaches to a shelf to pick an item for a customer order at the Amazon Prime warehouse, in New York. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan, File)
Amazon’s potential HQ2 sites leaves many cities disappointed

And yet, some municipal leaders are looking at the bright side of being rejected.

Exotic animals find compassionate care in Bothell (video)

At the Center for Bird and Exotic Animal Medicine, vets treat snakes, hedgehogs and even kangaroos.

Don’t take economic forecasts to the bank — or the casino

Air travel delays could spur a rebirth of passenger rail service.

Amanda Strong (left) tries on an Angel of the Winds Arena hat as she and Courtney Brown hand out gift bags after the renaming ceremony Dec. 13 in Everett. The new name replaces the Xfinity name. (Andy Bronson / Her file)
Angel of the Winds to break ground on $60M casino expansion

“We think we’re on the cusp of becoming a major resort.”

Emirates orders 20 more Airbus A380 jumbos, saving program

The Dubai carrier also has options to buy 16 more. The program seems safe until 2029.

U.S. government proposes new rules for hog slaughter

The plan lets plant workers be in charge of removing unfit hogs, instead of government inspectors.

How do you retrieve an errant Boeing 737 from a muddy slope?

Turkish authorities used cranes to lift a plane that skidded off a runway.

House passes bill aimed at lowering gender wage gap

The bill would hinder employers from retaliating against female workers who ask about others’ pay.

Most Read