Growing Aerospace Cluster Builds Up Its Own Talent Pipeline

JiET-A provides high school and college students in the region a path to engineering degrees, including high-quality paid internships at leading aerospace companies.

Northern Illinois University’s College of Engineering and Engineering Technology Dean Promod Vohra, Ph.D., said at the news conference, “NIU and the higher education institutions are delighted to be part of JiET-A and to expand our partnerships with each other and with the aerospace companies. This is a new level of support, practical experience and mentorship for students in the region, as we integrate academic curriculum with hands-on internships at the companies that are heavily invested in this initiative. NIU is committed to providing seamless education to students coming out of the JIET-A program and has already developed 2+2 articulation agreements for our engineering programs with Rock Valley College.”

JiET-A Goal
To have 200 students in the pipeline so up to 40 graduates annually go to work for local aerospace companies.

JiET-A Background

JiET-A was formed by 17 organizations that signed a Declaration supporting the need to collaborate, to connect students’ academic curriculum with work experiences. This includes innovative internships, mentorships and scholarships that lead to employment in the aerospace industry.

The Rockford Area Economic Development Council formed the Rockford Area Aerospace Network, RAAN, to help local aerospace companies collaborate and grow at a faster rate in this high-growth, high-wage industry. JiET-A is driven by RAAN, a group of 20 private aerospace companies.


JiET-A is an innovative, community-based initiative to significantly increase the Rockford, Illinois, region’s aerospace talent pipeline. It combines higher education with real-world work experience at leading aerospace companies in the Rockford area. Students enrolled in a JiETA higher-education institution are selected by a participating aerospace company for internships, matched with a mentor and may apply for scholarships. The participating colleges and universities are Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, Northern Illinois University, Rockford College and Rock Valley College. Internship opportunities are available at B/E Aerospace, Comply365, GE Aviation, Hamilton Sundstrand, Kaney Aerospace, Woodward and more.


The primary role of the Rockford Area Economic Development Council is to enhance wealth creation in the Rockford Region by marketing the area and helping employers retain and create quality jobs. The RAEDC works closely with many partners to serve as a one-stop resource for clients, to improve the competitiveness of the region and to engage the community in the work of economic development.

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