June 5, 2014

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Northern Utah Regional Report

June 5, 2014

We just won a recent award from the Boeing on the 787 program, which will be a large package for us. And in our new Aircraft Commercial Center of Excellence, we’ve won programs for Rolls Royce, GE, the Airbus A350 and the A-400M program. The A350 program itself is kind of our anchor. When we’re at full-rate production, we’ll be making 25 miles of linear composite structures every single month out of that building, which is done nowhere else in the world. Automated processing allows us to do that.

But even with automation, we need a lot of employees to run equipment and to inspect parts that we’re building. We have a great concern about the future opportunity to hire because the aerospace industry is booming.

What are our workforce challenges and opportunities?

MORTENSEN: Weber State serves a unique role in trying to meet the workforce needs of both Weber and Davis counties. We have a great partnership with Ogden City with our college town initiative. We just opened a new building on our campus in Davis County last fall to expand our programs there, specifically to help support Hill Air Force Base and other aerospace manufacturing businesses in that community.

We were funded this past legislative session with $57.5 million to open up new sites on our Ogden campus. That will be really transformative. That’s the largest instructional facility that the legislature has ever funded, just with the state money, not to mention the generous private funding we’ve had for that facility. This building will be a real gem to attract students into science, technology, engineering and math disciplines.

With a partnership with Ogden City, this past November we opened up a Weber State downtown complex that serves multiple functions. It has a bookstore that’s open to the public. And it has continuing education classrooms to try to meet educational needs for businesses and others who want to take classes at that convenient location. The coolest part of that is the startup Ogden incubator model that we have there, where it’s kind of an entrepreneurial hub where folks can gather.

How is USTAR playing into our workforce and economic development efforts?

MORTENSEN: Weber State is the Northern Utah tech outreach center for the USTAR program. To really leverage not only businesses and entrepreneurs in the community who want to try to bring ideas to the marketplace, but also to try to support faculty and student projects and help them be commercializable. We also have the Utah Center for Aeronautical Innovation and Design in Farmington. We do a lot of applied research projects to support the aerospace industry.       

J. EDWARDS: There’s an initiative that was started recently called the Advanced Manufacturing Materials Initiative that was designed to be about Utah State and about Weber. We just finished a proposal to the Department of Commerce to try to get some planning to move that ahead. Weber’s been very involved in that. In fact, it’s the essential side of the outreach to the industry. They’re right next door to ATK and all the other advanced materials operations in the state. The IT sector might be down south, but the advanced materials sector is definitely up here in the northern part of the state.

TAGGART: I’m glad you mentioned advanced materials. A conversation started a couple years ago about some needs in the composites industry, and out of that came a resounding need for workforce development in the area of nondestructive testing and inspection. We heard that loudly from Hill Air Force Base, from ATK, Barnes Aerospace, Boeing, our recreational folks like ENVE and ITT Exelis. At the tech college we decided to make an investment and start nondestructive testing inspection so we can make sure we’re meeting those needs.

We are fortunate to have great articulation with Weber State. The two large economic bases in Weber County are healthcare and manufacturing, and we have almost every single one of our programs articulated with Weber State. So students can start as a composite technician and complete their degree in manufacturing, engineering or welding. In our healthcare program, our practical nurses complete their first year LPN program on our campus. They can complete the second year of their RN program from Weber State without ever leaving our campus.

SMITH: In the DATC we have the ability to combine the skill set in the production line people with Weber State’s skill set in the engineering people. And we’ve been able to get an awful lot of people employed up at Hill Air Force Base. So we’re excited about the wedding between the ATCs and Weber State and what that means to our community.

Talk about workforce as it relates to Hill Air Force Base.

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