September 2004 
Volume 03, Issue 5 

‘School made all the difference’'School made all the difference'

When Steve Crandall decided at the age of 42 to complete the coursework for a bachelor's degree, he had no notion how profoundly it would change his life.

An estimator for Boeing Commercial Airplanes, he knew his associate's degree held him back, and he felt the pressure of passing time. But he did not suspect that college would open up a future that he long ago dismissed as out of reach; or fundamentally change his sense of self.

"It's been a blessing," he said. "School made all the difference."


Picture this . . .

Picture this …As a science fiction fan, Shared Services computer graphics guru John Rankin just might have the perfect job. Boeing pays him to create animated videos of futuristic space vehicles plying the solar system in search of life on distant planets.

Only it's not fantasy. There's no fiction to this science.

Rankin, of the 3D Multimedia Group in Creative Services, has produced a series of scientifically accurate conceptual animations and posters of a revolutionary new spacecraft Boeing proposes to send on a mission to the moons of Jupiter in search of an environment that might sustain basic extraterrestrial life.



Connexion by boeing people Fit school into broadband Pace of work

They're part of a small work force for a startup business unit. Yet since December, 13 employees of Connexion by Boeing have completed their studies and earned college degrees through the Learning Together Program at Boeing.

During their quest, they worked for a business unit that had to adapt to the post-9/11 world and roll out a global commercial service faster and with fewer resources than originally planned. In addition, they had to make the usual life-balancing adjustments, such as how to make time for family.

"I highly recommend that anyone thinking about obtaining a degree first sit down with their family, explain the requirements, and get their acceptance," said Rick Blake, a customer project manager in Irvine, Calif., who received his MBA in February from the University of Phoenix. "They are part of the team and will be directly affected by the tremendous workload."

Etta Robinson, executive office administrator for the International Regulatory Affairs team in Seattle, said she put her social life on hold to take care of studying and homework. Robinson, who obtained her bachelor's degree from the University of Phoenix in June, credited job-related skills such as planning and organization for helping her to maintain the family-school balance. "I look forward to traveling and vacations free from homework," she quipped.

Several Connexion graduates mentioned company-paid tuition and direct school-to-company billing as the most useful features of Learning Together, but flexibility also got nods of approval. "I could take anything from Elizabethan literature to piano lessons to physics, and Learning Together supported that," said Christine Gibbons of Seattle, a product-support focal for business jet customers. She earned her bachelor's from the University of Washington last winter.

The most recent graduate, Cris Cristadoro, who got his MBA in August from Pepperdine University in Malibu, Calif., had nothing but praise for Learning Together. Irvine-based Cristadoro said: "The company has arranged to pay for tuition directly with the university, and book reimbursement worked really well. What's not to like about the program in general? It's great!"

-Jack Arends



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