Boeing Grants Aim to Beef up STEM Ed in Washington

Three Washington state universities have been the recent recipients of new grants from Boeing for STEM initiatives. The University of Washington (UW), Seattle U and Washington State (WSU) have all won awards from the company, which views the latest funding as a way to help ensure it has a trained workforce to fill its aviation jobs.

UW received $500,000 toward helping "under-represented" high schoolers attend and succeed at the university. That includes support for the "Dream Project," which trains UW students to mentor first-generation and low-income students in King County high schools as they navigate the college-admissions process.

Seattle U's College of Science and Engineering received $250,000 to improve retention rates of non-traditional students, specifically women and people of color.

WSU is also receiving $250,000, which it will use to create new coursework and equip new labs at its new North Puget Sound campus in Everett, scheduled to open in 2017. One of the motivations for placing a campus in that location was to be able to "deliver ready-to-work employees directly to the aerospace industry and other advanced manufacturing industries in our region," said President Kirk Schulz. The main campus for the institution is located 300 miles east in Pullman, WA.

As a thanks to Boeing, the university will be designating a fabrication lab on the first floor of the 95,000-square foot building in Everett as the "Boeing Innovation Studio." It will house a 3D printer and scanner, a CNC mill, laser cutter and other advanced manufacturing gear. Students will use the equipment to create capstone and club projects and do hands-on coursework.

"Boeing will be a significant jobs provider in Washington for decades to come. Our hope and goal is that those future jobs will continue to be filled by kids who grow up right here," said Boeing Commercial Airplanes President and CEO, Ray Conner, in a prepared statement. "We are working hard today to give Washington students opportunities for employment within aerospace, manufacturing and other STEM-related fields when they graduate.

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal and Campus Technology. She can be reached at dian@dischaffhauser.com or on Twitter @schaffhauser.

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