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Earthship: Boeing helps Albuquerque students build eco-friendly house

During the last half-century, Boeing has produced and launched hundreds of space vehicles as the brightest minds pioneered life-changing technology.

But on a recent day in Albuquerque, N.M., Boeing engineers were focused on the ground, shoveling dirt and packing old tires to help create a structure that one Boeing leader said was as innovative as some of the most advanced satellites. In the process, those same engineers worked alongside students at the Albuquerque Job Corps Center, helping them learn new skills while constructing an eco-friendly "Earthship" on school grounds.

Students at the Albuquerque Job Corps Center in New Mexico

Boeing/Robert Sterling

Students at the Albuquerque Job Corps Center in New Mexico learn the proper way to pack dirt into recycled automobile tires for construction of an eco-friendly Earthship on their school grounds. Boeing engineers visited the center to partner with the students on the project.

An Earthship is a completely self-sustaining, large or small house that is designed for family living and made up of dirt, mud, bottles and recycled automobile tires -- similar to an adobe-style home. The walls provide thermal protection to keep indoor temperatures constant while outside temperatures fluctuate in the heat or cold. Earthships are generally “off-the-grid” homes that minimize their reliance on public utilities, and they are built to use available local resources, especially energy from the sun.

The Albuquerque Job Corps Center (AJCC) is one of 123 residential education and vocational training programs for economically disadvantaged youth across the United States. The U.S. Department of Labor funds the AJCC, which is free to students.

"Helping the AJCC mentor and coach students on this project will help them develop a better understanding of green technology while building up marketable skills.”

"Helping the AJCC mentor and coach students on this project will help them develop a better understanding of green technology while building up marketable skills,” said Greg Deiter, vice president of Boeing Defense & Government Services (D&GS). “As I look at what D&GS does in New Mexico, having an emerging workforce skilled in green technology and construction will be valuable."

Boeing’s Albuquerque-based Directed Energy Systems organization, which develops directed energy technologies, like high-energy lasers, weapons, relay systems and space surveillance and tracking platforms, plans to start a mentoring program with the AJCC to help students acquire critical skills.

"Directed Energy Systems is committed to partnering with the New Mexico community, building mutually beneficial relationships and developing a workforce that can envision and produce the next generation of our products," said Tim Roark, site director for Directed Energy Systems.

Boeing employs about 500 people in New Mexico and conducts business with 90 in-state suppliers, generating more than $200 million in supplier purchases and close to $700,000 in charitable contributions. Besides being home to Directed Energy Systems, New Mexico has nearly Boeing 200 employees at White Sands Missile Range, where Defense & Government Services performs infrastructure support services for a government customer.