OLYMPIA, WA – Community and technical colleges this week added ammunition in Washington’s bid to convince Boeing to build its next generation airplane – the 777X – in-state. Instructors from nine community and technical colleges were trained and certified to teach the latest composites technology, creating a talent-pool to support the aerospace and marine manufacturing industries. The week-long training ended today (Friday, May 17) and was provided by Abaris, the company contracted to train FAA safety inspectors in advanced composite maintenance and repair.
Composites are high impact, fiber-reinforced resins used in the aerospace, shipbuilding, and construction industries. Boeing 777X wings will be made of this lighter, tougher material.
Instructors from the following colleges participated in the Abaris training with funding from the State Board for Community and Technical Colleges: Bellingham, Big Bend , Everett, Olympic, Peninsula, Skagit Valley, South Seattle, Spokane Community College, and Lake Washington Institute of Technology. Training took place at Seattle Community College’s state-of-the-art composites lab.
The nine colleges formed a consortium led by two Washington State Centers of Excellence: Aerospace and Advanced Materials Manufacturing at Everett Community College; and Marine Manufacturing and Technology at Skagit Valley College. There are a total of ten Centers of Excellence across Washington, all based at community and technical colleges. Each focuses on a targeted industry and provides fast, flexible, quality education and training programs for the entire two-year college system.
“An Abaris training certificate is the gold standard for composites instructors,” said Mary Kaye Bredeson, executive director of the Aerospace Center of Excellence. “We’re producing top-notch instructors who will train students for high-wage, high-demand jobs.”
Abaris is also championing the creation of a national industry composites certificate for graduates. Once adopted, the certificates will prove graduates have mastered the exact skills needed for the job – much like an industry “stamp of approval.” Washington’s two-year colleges will be able to offer the certificates quickly because they already have Abaris-trained instructors in place. “Our community and technical colleges are ahead of the game,” Bredeson said.
The still-young composites industry has sparked a resurgence of quality manufacturing jobs in Washington and provides products, parts, and services to a broad range of sectors including aerospace, automotive, marine, consumer goods, sporting goods and wind energy.
Author– Laura McDowell, State Board for Community & Technical Colleges Communications Director