Corinna Cisneros did not take her decision to pursue engineering lightly. As a single working mom going to community college full time, she wanted to be sure that more time in school would land her in a fulfilling career.
At Tacoma Community College, Cisneros excelled in math and worked as a tutor and supplemental instructor. Her plan originally was to pursue teaching, but co-workers recognized her potential for engineering and recommended she consider the field. After diligent research exploring the profession, this first generation college student set her sights on a bachelor’s program at Washington State University, a move that would mean two more years of school.
“I wanted to show my daughter that education is important,” Cisneros said, “that no matter how much money you have, whether you’re dirt poor and have family support or not, that getting your education is achievable.”
One of Bob Stevens’ favorite things about owning a business is helping high school students through their first job interviews.
“They are scared, but rapt with attention,” said Stevens, who owns and founded Northwest Applied Marine in Chewelah, Wash. “You can see that they really want to learn something.”
In 10-years as a resident of Chewelah – population 2600 – Stevens has seen manufacturing companies come and go partially due to a lack of talented local workforce, a trend which is also happening nationwide. When Stevens launched Northwest Applied Marine in 2010, he experienced his own need for a talented workforce, and turned it into an opportunity to offer more vocational training to Chewelah students. Currently, he has five high school interns.
“Pretty much the only job opportunity in town is Subway or Zips fast food,” Stevens said. “The students I work with are intelligent and very capable; they need opportunities outside of home and school to learn.”
Washington State University’s research in advanced materials, engineering and smart systems make it a crucial part of Washington’s $76 billion aerospace industry. Because of those strengths, local companies look to WSU for help in solving technological challenges, and to engage with students who will soon enter the workforce. Government programs like the Joint Center for Aerospace Technology Innovation (JCATI) help initiate these mutually beneficial relationships.
The program launched in 2012, and WSU researchers have been involved since day one. The 2015-16 funding was recently announced, and we wanted to take the moment to share two great videos about what WSU is doing for local companies: