Planting the Seed

Schools, manufacturers, and cities form partnerships to help develop the aerospace industry work force

The industry claims there is a work force shortage to fill the needs of the growing aerospace market. So what are the solutions? Following are some of the innovative programs being created to instill the aviation passion in young children, train students to fill the job vacancies, and share resources to grow the needed work force.

Starting with youth

Rolls-Royce created a scale replica of the Trent 1000 engine, which powers the Boeing 787 Dreamliner; made of Legos, it was on display at this year’s Farnborough Airshow. With full moving parts, the engine allowed people to see the complex workings of a Rolls-Royce jet engine. The company developed the engine to catch the attention of budding scientists and engineers and to demonstrate the exciting careers available.

The one-of-a-kind Lego structure shows the complex inner workings of a jet engine and took four people eight weeks to complete. Including 152,455 Lego bricks, the engine weighs 307 kg and is over 2 meters long and 1.5 meters wide. More than 160 separate engine components were built and joined together in order to replicate a real jet engine.

Paul Stein, Rolls-Royce, chief scientific officer, says "Engineers have critical roles to play in solving the challenges of tomorrow, not least designing aircraft engines that will power people to the furthest corners of the world more efficiently. We are delighted to showcase this Lego engine, the first of its kind in the world. What we do is exciting and we hope that this representation of our technology will help to enthuse and inspire the potential scientists and engineers of the future about the career opportunities they could pursue."

FedEx Express doesn’t consider anyone too young to cultivate an interest in aviation maintenance. FedEx Express team members regularly accept invitations to speak at local elementary, junior and high schools; college and trade schools; and Girl Scout and Boy Scout troops. It also sponsors organizations that share its desire to promote the aviation industry, such as Women in Aviation (WIA) and Black Aerospace Professional (OBAP) organizations, as well as AMTSociety.

High school and college

AAR has started a program with the Westbury Union Free School District and the Cradle of Aviation Museum in Garden City as a part of its nationwide “Taking Flight” education initiative. The partnership will provide local students internships and access to STEM related careers.

The AAR program in New York is the latest in a series of Taking Flight national education initiatives that the company is developing to introduce middle and high school students to exciting careers in aviation. The program includes participation in career days, field trips, and paid internships at AAR locations across the country, including Miami; Indianapolis; Oklahoma City; Chicago; Hot Springs, AR; and Goldsboro, NC. 

“The need for educated and technically skilled workers is a nationwide challenge and the work force of tomorrow is in the classroom today,” says Sam Gorman, vice president and general manager, AAR Aircraft Component Services — New York. “It is incumbent upon industry to connect the dots by bringing major players from government, education, industry, and nonprofits together.”

AAR has also pledged $100,000 in support of Miami public schools through a program with City Year Miami. City year members will serve as tutors, mentors, and role models at Miami Central Senior High School. AAR maintains a strong presence in the Miami area with maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) and landing gear services operations that employ more than 1,200 employees.

AAR recently commissioned a report, The Mid-skills Gap in Middle America: Building Today’s Workforce, which focuses on ways to close the skills gaps in America’s work force that are creating barriers to hiring and job creation ( 

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