Paine Field aerospace center a launch pad for jobs

EVERETT — Want to begin a career in aerospace?

It’s an industry the state estimates will need 21,000 workers over the next decade as the older generation retires.

On Thursday, a new site where future aerospace workers will gain the necessary career skills opened in Everett: the Washington Aerospace Training and Research Center.

Next week, the first 20 students will file into a large building at Paine Field to start course work for an aerospace manufacturing core certificate. Students will become familiar with aircraft; they’ll learn about hand tools and manufacturing processes; they’ll read blueprints and get an introduction to composite materials.

“This is the beginning,” Linda Lanham, director of Aerospace Futures Alliance, told a crowd who gathered Thursday at the training center.

Lanham worked with Snohomish County Executive Aaron Reardon to arrange for use of the building at Paine Field last summer. But the site needed a facelift — getting rid of asbestos; doing some rewiring; adding upgraded lighting and new equipment — before classes could be held here.

Edmonds Community College is responsible for coordinating classes. But don’t expect all the courses to be part of a certificate or degree program.

The training center will provide flexible and nimble training opportunities in manufacturing, avionics and composites that meet the fast-paced needs of the aerospace industry, said Larry Cluphf, center director of operations.

Aerospace companies such as the Boeing Co. and ATS can request specialized training courses — composites drilling or metal bonding — as the companies see a need for specific skills.

But people who are looking to get into the aerospace industry will also find certificate programs, such as the one that starts next week, to help them on their way. The Aerospace Manufacturing Core certificate requires nine credits taught over 99 hours.

A second program, aerospace assembly mechanic certificate, starts in July. That certificate is more involved, requiring more than 200 hours of study in subjects including wing structure, basic drilling and riveting, fuselage skin assembly.

The center has received a $1.75 million appropriation from Washington state, a $600,000 federal appropriation, $450,000 of the governor’s Workforce Investment Act discretionary funds for its facility in Everett and a $250,000 Innovation Partnership Zone award from the Washington state Department of Commerce.

The Boeing Co. has donated $2.5 million for tools, materials and equipment that will be used to teach classes in assembly mechanics, electrical, hydraulics, composites and quality assurance.

Boeing’s Duane Schireman, a human resources director, sees a lot of opportunity at the new aerospace center.

“Once we get this thing going, it could be a good pipeline of workers for Boeing,” he told The Herald in an interview last month.

Aerospace Training Center

For more information on the new training center that opened Thursday in Everett, go to www.washingtonaerospace.com or call 425-640-1840.

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