A few years ago, the state’s leadership in aerospace manufacturing was challenged. The Boeing Co. decided to open a second 787 assembly line in South Carolina instead of Washington, and that induced minor panic among government and business leaders.
Jetliners are the most complicated mass-produced products in the world, and suddenly they could just as well be built elsewhere.
One answer to the threat was to beef up education and training, to ensure that a uniquely abundant and skilled workforce was waiting outside the state’s factory doors. If specialized talent is plentiful, goes the theory, Boeing and other aerospace companies will have a compelling reason to stay here — or even move to Washington.
So now we have dozens of new programs to inspire, educate and train the aerospace workforce of the future. Snohomish County, where Boeing designs and assembles the biggest and most sophisticated jets, is a nexus of specialized training at all levels, from advanced engineering to precision welding.
Much has been written about the various programs, but whom do they serve? Today we profile nine participants. They range in age from 15 to 51 and come from near and far. Some are just starting out in life. Others are in mid-career. They all have high hopes.