Washington State University and Clemson University students listen to Nichole Bascue, a WSU Everett student and team member, during a recent meeting in Everett. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

Washington State University and Clemson University students listen to Nichole Bascue, a WSU Everett student and team member, during a recent meeting in Everett. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

Students and Boeing team up to disinfect airplanes faster

A new career program is teaching WSU Everett and Clemson students about project engineering and marketing.

EVERETT — With support from the Boeing Co., a new program that prepares college students for careers in aerospace is getting a test run at Washington State University in Everett and Clemson University in South Carolina.

Five WSU students and five Clemson students have teamed up to develop an autonomous system that can rapidly disinfect airplane cabins at a reasonable cost to airlines.

The group, which calls itself CATTS — WSU Cougars and Clemson Tigers Together — is made up of engineering, business, marketing and communications students.

Since June, the team has been meeting and working virtually.

The group met for the first time in October when the Clemson students visited the Pacific Northwest for five days and attended classes at WSU in Everett.

Meeting in person and “getting to know everyone is good for the team and good for the project,” said Kenneth Graham, a senior marketing major at Clemson and a team member.

Boeing, which operates commercial airplane assembly factories in Renton, Everett and North Charleston, South Carolina, is footing the bill for the team’s project.

This year, Boeing consolidated production of the Boeing 787, which had been assembled in Everett, at the company’s South Carolina factory. The South Carolina plant, which delivered its first 787 in 2012, is about 230 miles from Clemson University. The last Everett-built Dreamliner rolled off the assembly line at the Paine Field factory in March of this year.

“I think this is a natural pairing because Boeing has major locations in Everett and South Carolina,” said Jacob Murray, associate professor of electrical engineering at WSU Everett, who is co-leading the project with Brad Putman, a professor of civil engineering at Clemson University.

Earlier this year, the two professors contacted Boeing to ask if the Chicago-based airplane-maker would support the two-university program.

When Boeing said yes, the project got underway.

“At WSU Everett, collaboration is in our DNA,” Chancellor Paul Pitre said. “As we prepare the next generation of aerospace thinkers and leaders — many of whom will work at Boeing – it makes sense to partner and model the kind of creative collaboration our industry partners want.”

Jacob Murray, a professor of electrical engineering at WSU Everett, speaks to WSU and Clemson students during class meeting recently in Everett. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

Jacob Murray, a professor of electrical engineering at WSU Everett, speaks to WSU and Clemson students during class meeting recently in Everett. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

The team has a year to develop an autonomous system that can disinfect airplane cabins. Students could not discuss the project or their progress because they signed a non-disclosure agreement with Boeing.

“Airlines are looking for ways to efficiently and quickly disinfect the aircraft’s interior,” Boeing wrote in a recent report.

An airline typically readies a single-aisle airplane for its next flight in 30 minutes, so “the target disinfection duration is 10 minutes,” the report said.

The team toured Boeing’s aircraft assembly plant and maintenance provider Aviation Technical Services at Paine Field in Everett, and Electroimpact, a Mukilteo company that designs and manufactures aerospace assembly tools.

In April, WSU Everett students will travel to Clemson University.

There the team will present the completed project, including a business plan and marketing campaign, to Boeing executives.

In the meantime, they will continue to work on the project virtually.

Being on a team with engineers, industrial designers and business students has been an eye-opening experience, said David Nurminen, who is majoring in business management at Clemson.

“I learned a lot about how engineers tackle problems and how business people tackle problems. I’ve grown to appreciate that, as well as learning from them and their different models,” said Nurminen, 22, whose professors encouraged him to apply for the program.

Nichole Bascue, 29, is using the skills she’s learned as an integrated strategic communication major at WSU Everett to create the group’s marketing and branding materials.

“I am going to be helping them get their names out there, so I am their launch pad,” Bascue said.

“Providing students with opportunities to address real-world challenges through experiential learning is at the core of a Clemson education,” Clemson Provost Bob Jones said. “The knowledge and experience these students will gain from the ability to directly interface with Boeing highlight the benefits of industry partnerships in higher education.”

Boeing is providing the group with $12,500 to pay for travel expenses.

“We are proud to support students in the states where many of our employees live and work,” said Craig Bomben, vice president of Boeing Flight Operations.

Boeing is a large employer of Clemson and WSU graduates, the company said.

“This unique partnership helps facilitate a robust talent pipeline while helping students fulfill their career ambitions,” Bomben said.

Janice Podsada; jpodsada@heraldnet.com; 425-339-3097; Twitter: @JanicePods.

Talk to us

More in Herald Business Journal

Dan Bates / The Herald
When Seattle Genetics founder, Clay Siegall lost his father while in college, he switched from studying for an MD to studying for a PhD., and a goal to treat cancer patients.  His efforts are paying off in lives.
Bothell biotech CEO resigns after domestic-violence allegation

Clay Siegall co-founded Seagen, which develops therapies for cancer patients. He’s accused of attacking his wife.

FILE - A sign at a Starbucks location in Havertown, Pa., is seen April 26, 2022. Starbucks says it will pay travel expenses for U.S. employees to access abortion or gender-confirmation procedures if those services aren't available within 100 miles of a worker’s home. The Seattle coffee chain says, Monday, May 16, 2022, the benefit will also be available to dependents of employees enrolled in its health care coverage. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke, file)
Starbucks will cover travel for workers seeking abortions

Amazon and Tesla also will provide the benefit. Walmart and Facebook have stayed silent.

A barista pours steamed milk into a red paper cup while making an espresso drink at a Starbucks coffee shop in the Pike Place Market, Tuesday, Nov. 10, 2015, in Seattle. It's as red as Santa's suit, a poinsettia blossom or a loud Christmas sweater. Yet Starbucks' minimalist new holiday coffee cup has set off complaints that the chain is making war on Christmas. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
Interfaith group asks Starbucks to drop vegan milk surcharge

They say the practice amounts to a tax on people who have embraced plant-based lifestyles.

FILE - In this Monday, March 1, 2021 file photo, The first Alaska Airlines passenger flight on a Boeing 737-9 Max airplane takes off on a flight to San Diego from Seattle-Tacoma International Airport in Seattle. A Boeing pilot involved in testing the 737 Max jetliner was indicted Thursday, Oct. 14,2021 by a federal grand jury on charges of deceiving safety regulators who were evaluating the plane, which was later involved in two deadly crashes. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren, File)
Alaska Airlines to keep canceling flights at high level for weeks

Flight cancellations since April will continue. The chaos has been damaging for Seattle’s hometown airline.

FILE - An airplane flies past the Boeing logo on the company's headquarters in Chicago, on Thursday, Dec. 20, 2001. Boeing Co., a leading defense contractor and one of the world's two dominant manufacturers of airline planes, is expected to move its headquarters from Chicago to the Washington, D.C., area, according to two people familiar with the matter. The decision could be announced as soon as later Thursday, May 5, 2022, according to one of the people. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren, File)
Boeing expected to move headquarters from Chicago to DC area

The move would put Boeing executives close to their key customer, the Pentagon, and the FAA.

This 3D rendering shows Sila's 6000-foot facility in Moses Lake, to be used to manufacture lithium-ion anode battery materials. (Business Wire)
New factory in Moses Lake will bring hundreds of new jobs

The plant will manufacture lithium-ion anode battery materials for cars and cellphones.

Dr. David Kirtley at the new Helion headquarters, Antares, in Everett, Washington on Wednesday, Jan. 19, 2022  (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Helion Energy: New Everett company has the sun in its eyes

The firm is the winner of a new award by Economic Alliance Snohomish County, called Opportunity Lives Here.

Marysville Mayor Jon Nehring is this year's winner of the Henry M. Jackson Award given by Economic Alliance Snohomish County. Photographed in Marysville, Washington on April 25, 2022. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
Jon Nehring: Longtime Marysville mayor who’s nurtured growth

He’s helped steer the city’s transformation and is winner of the Jackson Award by Economic Alliance Snohomish County.

Monti Ackerman, recipient of the John Fluke Award, is pictured Thursday, April 28, 2022, outside his office in Everett, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Monti Ackerman: A passionate volunteer and calculator whiz

The Fortive executive is the winner of this year’s Fluke Award by Economic Alliance Snohomish County.

Rep. Mike Sells, D-38, is the recipient of this year's Henry M. Jackson award. The award recognizes a visionary leader who through partnership, tenacity and a strong commitment to community has created lasting opportunities to improve quality of life and positively impact the regional economy. Photographed in Everett, Washington on April 29, 2022.  (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
Rep. Mike Sells: He fought for WSU Everett and worker rights

The retiring legislator is the recipient of the Floyd Award from Economic Alliance Snohomish County.

People sit outside the recently opened Amazon Go facility Wednesday, April 27, 2022, in Mill Creek, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Cashier-less Amazon Go buzzing in Mill Creek grand opening

Locals came to check out the high-tech store, with $3 avocado toast and cameras watching customers’ every move.

Joel Bervell (Courtesy photo)
TikTok med student @joelbervell named top Emerging Leader

Joel Bervell, who highlights disparities in medicine, took top honors at an event for 12 rising stars in Snohomish County.