Loretta Aragon, 40
Q: How did you come to enroll in this program? Why change career paths? Why this and not something else?
A: I used to be a union carpenter but got injured on the job. I didn’t think I’d ever find a passion again. I tried a surgical technician program but dropped it for this. I enjoy working with my hands and getting dirty. I love that I get to fabricate and create things. Plus, it has the guy effect: I get to stand out because there aren’t as many women in the program.
Q: What would be your ideal first job after you earn a degree?
A: I’m not sure I’ve even thought that far. People from different companies come to recruit us, including Boeing. They’re (Boeing) talking about taking me to retirement. I wouldn’t mind working on a tugboat, making tools and fixing things that go wrong.
Q: What would you like to be doing in five or 10 years?
A: I’m interested in metallurgy — manipulating metals for different needs. I might need more schooling, some chemistry for that. I’m kind of liking the mad-scientist element to that.
Q: Do you follow Boeing in the news? How do you feel about the company’s prospects?
A: I watch the news and I hear about them for sure. I think they’ve got a lot of work coming up.
Q: Would you be willing to relocate to get the right job, or would you prefer to stay in the Puget Sound area?
A: I’d be willing to move if the price is right. I think this is a pretty good area for getting work with Boeing here. I want to be where the work is.
Q: When did you first travel by air, and where did you go?
A: I was pretty young, around six. I flew from Albuquerque, N.M., to California. I remember being alone. It was a little exciting but scary.
Q: What will transportation be like in 50 years?
A: I’m really anxious to find out. I’d like to be able to go to the Mediterranean in a couple hours.
Lake Washington Institute of Technology offers both engineering and manufacturing courses. Options include certificate and associate degree programs in areas like machine technology, welding fabrication and electronics. Although the institute is in Kirkland, about a third of its students come from Snohomish County.