Advanced Aerospace Manufacturing Lab Coming this Fall

Advanced Aerospace Manufacturing Lab Coming this Fall
Advanced Aerospace Manufacturing Lab Coming this Fall

We hold the high expectation that all of our students will graduate from high school with the knowledge and skills necessary to be successful in college or in a career of their choosing. What this looks likes differs from student to student and it is our job to provide the learning opportunities that will allow each student to choose their own pathway to reach their personal best.

One pathway option bridges the gap between graduation and the high need area of skill-specific job opportunities. Today's domestic workforce seeks employees with both technical and academic skills who can fill skill-specific jobs, but employers are struggling to find such qualified workers. With a goal of bridging this gap, we began to look at adding additional career and technical education (CTE) courses and adapting existing CTE courses to better support workforce development for our students.

One of these course adaptations was to our existing manufacturing technology course at Monroe High School. The course was modified to incorporate attributes of the Core Plus program, a manufacturing-based curriculum developed by Boeing. Core Plus was designed to be a two-year, industry driven standardized high school curriculum recognized by the manufacturing industry throughout Washington state to prepare high school students for an entry-level career in manufacturing upon graduation. It was designed to be taught in two consecutive years with the first year focusing on common manufacturing skills across multiple industries and the second year focusing on industry specific skills to meet local needs.

Without the essential manufacturing facilities and equipment to fully implement the Core Plus program, we began in 2016 by incorporating key attributes of the program into our existing manufacturing technology course with the future goal of investing in the facilities and equipment necessary to fully implement the program at a later date.

Three years later, that future goal is now becoming a reality. Through thoughtful planning, the collection of mitigation impact fees from the City of Monroe and Snohomish County, and the receipt of an aerospace grant, we are now able to construct an advanced manufacturing lab that will allow us to fully implement the Core Plus curriculum. What was once a storage facility on the MHS campus is now becoming the most advanced CAD lab in Washington state with an adjoining aerospace-focused manufacturing lab for practical application. Construction of the facility began in June and is set to be ready for use in the fall of 2019.

Although we currently intend to utilize the Boeing approved Core Plus curriculum, the new advanced manufacturing lab is not tied to any given curriculum and may be adapted to different curriculum in coming years. Our manufacturing program will focus on the aerospace industry, but the skills learned will be transferable to other industries such as automotive and maritime manufacturing. Students who successfully complete two years in the program will earn a certificate with labor market value endorsed by Boeing and other local industry partners and will have employable job-specific skills right out of high school.

Even before the completion of the new lab, the program is already proving to yield results for our students. Among hundreds of students vying for engineering internship with Boeing this summer, Myah Wilson, a 2019 MHS graduate, was one of only thirty students selected to participate in the elusive internship program.

"The manufacturing technology class at my school is a really cool class. Not just because we get to use our hands and tools to make things out of sheet metal, but because it gives students real-life technical skills that help them get good-paying jobs in manufacturing. I urge anyone who wants to go into engineering, manufacturing, or even anyone who doesn't know what they want to do yet, to take this class!" said Myah when asked about her experience in the manufacturing technology course.

We are very excited for the many career opportunities the full implementation of the Core Plus program and our new advanced manufacturing lab will provide for our students. We also look forward to forging additional partnerships with local industries as we continue to develop job-specific skills and training that will provide students with a variety of career opportunities.