Developing Manufacturing Talent for the Future

Connecting local Washington students with industry experts

July 21, 2021 in Our Community

BCA Manufacturing Fellowship participants interact with members of Workforce Development Team.

This past April marked the inaugural Boeing Commercial Airlines (BCA) Manufacturing Fellowship program. The program is designed to bring together students interested in manufacturing careers and Boeing mentors.

Eleven fellows from Boeing partnered high schools, community and technical colleges across Washington State participated in this program. Over the course of the fellowship, students participated in one-on-one mentorship sessions, panel discussions on key manufacturing topics, employability training, and networking with their peers.

“I definitely recommend this experience to other students… [H]aving access to a mentor gives you a new perspective and someone to help you figure out your goals,” remarked HS senior Christopher Cruz from Seattle Skills Center, when reflecting on his experience.

The cohort brought together an exceptional range of perspectives and backgrounds, including 55% who identify as female or non-binary, and 82% who identify as non-white.

Over the seven week long program, students closely interacted with six Boeing employee mentors. Their expertise ranged from factory operations manager to 737 workplace coach to innovation cells site lead.

Qaturi Vaughn, a HS Senior at Franklin Pierce High School, mentioned one of their most important takeaways from a mentor, Jennifer Paige, a Functional Test Manager, “I loved speaking with Jennifer– hearing about her job day to day and troubleshooting. She also shared with me about where she started and her path to get where she is today. [I]t’s not about having one specific career direction. You just have to keep moving – you can do a lot of different types of learning.”

The panel discussion throughout the program explored several relevant topics, including: (1) Troubleshooting, (2) the Intersection of Manufacturing, Maintenance, and Engineering, (3) Advocating for Yourself, and (4) Quality and Safety.

During one program panel discussion, Lindsey Roby, an equipment services manager, offered some unconventional advice to the students in the program.

“A great way to build your troubleshooting skills is to go and find something in your house that is broken. Take it apart. See what the insides are... [G]et used to working with your hands. When I was younger I used to take hairdryers apart and make cars out of them with the motor and the fan to race up and down the hallway.”

“Everyone there clearly had their heart in it – they bring their insight and experiences.” Vaughn shared, after reflecting on their experience.

The Workforce Development Team is excited to work with the next group of students next spring, following the success of this year’s inaugural program.

“Boeing is proud to partner with high school and community college manufacturing programs across Washington. We loved getting to meet and engage with these students, and we look forward to welcoming our next class in Spring 2022!” said Holly Miles, Workforce Development Team.

By Carolyn Gatlin