LAKE STEVENS — Tai Chase has always loved working with his hands.
That, and a love for math and science, made engineering a logical career path for the Lake Stevens High School and Sno-Isle TECH senior.
However, Chase hadn’t found his niche until the summer of ninth grade when he enrolled in Sno-Isle’s summer aerospace course and was introduced to the world of airplane manufacturing.
Three years later, Chase is on the cusp of a career in the industry.
Ten days after high school graduation, Chase will be on the factory floor at Boeing starting his first day as an aircraft structures mechanic on Boeing’s newest crown jewel, the 777X.
“It’s a blessing,” the senior said.
Chase was working toward learning his trade at an age when most teens are more focused on having fun than thinking about their future.
The graduate-to-be spent a second summer in the aerospace course, before enrolling in Sno-Isle’s aerospace manufacturing and maintenance technology program for the past two years.
Following his junior year, Chase earned an internship at Boeing, gaining valuable experience that will translate to his new job.
“All the practice and all the work I had to do during that internship,” he said. “We went through the same employee training that new hires go through when they first get to Boeing, so I got firsthand experience of what that may be like.”
During a summer of blueprint interpretation, aircraft drawing and job shadowing, Chase impressed his supervisors and received a job offer.
Employment in hand, Chase returned for senior year at Sno-Isle not just as a student but as a resource, assisting daily with the instruction of his peers.
“He is my crew chief here,” said Kareen Morales Vincent, teacher of the aerospace manufacturing class. “I rely on him a lot. He runs the shop and people listen to him, so he has a really good rapport, especially with the younger kids, they look up to him for guidance, which is rare in a teenager.”
Teaching students reaffirmed Chase’s confidence in his own abilities. Vincent predicts that Chase will soon be running things on a larger scale.
“I don’t see him just being a factory worker,” she said. “I see him in charge of people. He just has the mannerisms, the finesse and charisma to be a leader.”
While reveling in the possibilities that await him, Chase is most excited to help those who aided him along the way.
And that starts at home.
“Family is first, I definitely just want to look after them,” Chase said. “I love doing engineering and the fact that I can do it while also supporting my family, it couldn’t get better than that.”
Ian Davis-Leonard: 425-339-3449; firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: IanDavisLeonard.