Pratt & Whitney Engineers Help to Inspire the Next Generation of Talent

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Pratt & Whitney's Engineering organization in West Palm Beach is expecting to grow over the next few years. New employees will need advanced engineering and design skills to meet the demands of next-generation products. To recruit this fresh talent, the organization saw the need to create a strong tie with higher education, according to Larry George, product definition manager, Hot Section Engineering South.

"The closest college was in Daytona Beach, which is a long distance from West Palm," he said. "So I reached out to the president of Palm Beach State College, which has an electrical technology program."

George joined the college's advisory council, a group of industry leaders that includes companies such as Lockheed Martin Sikorsky, Alstom and Florida Power & Light, to help create and influence curriculum that will prepare graduates for aerospace jobs.

"Palm Beach State now has an associate in science program in advanced technology geared to aerospace," he said. "Interns from the program have worked here in West Palm and we have subsequently hired them full-time."

A One Company Commitment to Corporate Social Responsibility

In fact, this is true across the company. Pratt & Whitney engineers are involved in programs to inspire the technical talent of the future. It's part of the company's commitment to corporate social responsibility, which aims to positively impact the communities where employees live and work.

The company has invested millions of dollars and developed K-12 and college-level partnerships that spark students' interest, inspire innovation and provide access to essential hands-on training. In addition to establishing multiple Centers of Excellence with top universities, partnering with schools to tie research capability at best-in-class universities to technology needs and investing in the Pratt & Whitney Additive Manufacturing Innovation Center at the University of Connecticut – one of the most advanced additive manufacturing labs in the nation – Pratt & Whitney engineers are involved with numerous institutions to develop manufacturing machine technology training programs to prepare aerospace workers for new and advanced manufacturing.

Crucial Education Partnerships

Ian McIntire, a Tool Services supervisor based in North Berwick, is an example of how this investment pays off. McIntire earned his bachelor's degree from the University of Southern Maine in 2006. As part of the partnership North Berwick has with the university, he secured an internship with Pratt & Whitney in an industrial engineering role for two years.

"Working in the industry while still in school helped provide an understanding of practical applications," he said. "This was a huge help when presented with new theories in school."

He joined the company's Manufacturing Engineering Development Program and gained broad hands-on experience in operations as well as engineering. "The Manufacturing Engineering Development program is the best way for young engineers to transition from school and intern positions to the full-time working world," he said.

Meanwhile, Columbus Engine Center-based engineers are involved with Partners in Education, mentoring three middle schools with strong science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) curriculum.

"One of the schools, Aaron Cohen Middle School, offers six to eight engineering classes to its students," said quality engineer Orlisa Woods, the Partners in Education liaison at the Columbus Engine Center. "We have provided some mentoring as well as tours of our facility for students. Our engineers also have helped them set up a CNC machine that the students use as part of their curriculum."

At the Middletown Engine Center, Christopher Monnes, tour operations manager, said the company is looking to triple the volume of STEM-related activity at his facility in 2017. Recently Monnes worked with Mechanical Engineers Rachel McGrath and Ariana Barrenechea to host students from nearby Miss Porter's School.

"The young women are part of a group of students interested in engineering and manufacturing," Monnes said. "We showed them the assembly areas for our Geared Turbofan™ engine and explained why the technical design is so special. A large focus on their tour highlighted the uniqueness of many of our parts, and how we work with extremely tight tolerances. The students were very interested in quality. The meeting actually went long because they had so many insightful questions. The future is extremely bright!"

Crossing Borders

As a global company, Pratt & Whitney partners with more than 60 K-12 and higher education level institutions to inspire and train the next generation of talent. With more than 33,000 employees worldwide, it's logical that National Engineers Week would have global representation.

Pratt & Whitney Canada engineers are among the approximately 46 percent of UTC employees involved in FIRST Robotics, an international robotics competition designed to teach high school students not only technical skills, but teamwork. The number of Pratt & Whitney Canada mentors has tripled as the company has formed a strong partnership with FIRST Robotics Quebec, which coordinates the program.

In Poland, aspiring engineers from the Rzeszów University of Technology and the University of Rzeszów recently got a taste of what it's like to work at Pratt & Whitney by visiting the Rzeszów, Poland, site to experience the process of manufacturing aircraft parts and components.