FLORENCE, S.C. – Implementing the STEM curriculum at an early age is the way to go for Boeing South Carolina, a company executive told the Florence Rotary Club on Monday.
In the nine years of Boeing South Carolina’s existence, it has 7,500 employees, and in five years half of the company’s engineers will be eligible to retire, said Tommy Preston, director of Boeing’s national strategy and government operations.
“We need to get aggressive with getting the next generation involved in advanced manufacturing,” Preston said.
Advanced manufacturing is not aerial mechanics working on planes or men and women painting planes, he said. Advanced manufacturing has changed.
“We have additive manufacturing,” Preston said. “We use 3D printing and animation now.”
He said robots are a big thing within the company, but he emphasized that robots are not taking jobs from humans. Boeing teaches humans how to use the robots to get tasks done.
“We’re constantly working with schools across South Carolina to ensure schools have information to teach their students how to work at Boeing,” Preston said.
He said assets to Boeing are individuals with two-year degrees in engineering, information technology, graphic design and more. He said he knows obtaining a four-year degree is not for everybody.
He applauded Florence-Darlington Technical College for programs that provide Boeing with students in those career paths, but he said students need to get interested in math and science at a young age to pursue careers in advanced manufacturing.
Boeing has provided $32 million to S.C. nonprofits in the education realm to get youth involved in math and science. Teach America, like the one located in Florence, receives a grant from Boeing to help retain S.C. teachers, especially those in the STEM-based areas. STEM stands for Science,…