Boeing and National Science Foundation to invest $21m in STEM development

Posted on 5 Oct 2018 by Tim Brown

In late September, Boeing and the National Science Foundation revealed a new $21m partnership to improve training in critical skill areas and increase knowledge in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields.

Boeing staff outside the newly opened Everett Delivery Center - image courtesy of Boeing
Boeing staff outside the newly opened Boeing Everett Delivery Center – image courtesy of Boeing

Boeing has committed to invest $10m in funding and the National Science Foundation (NSF) will partner with world-class learning institutions to develop online training in critical skill areas for both students and Boeing employees.

These skill areas include model-based engineering and systems engineering, mechatronics, robotics, data science and sensor analytics, program management and artificial intelligence. The first project is expected to launch in 2019.

“This investment demonstrates Boeing’s commitment to developing the future workforce and our current employees’ skills,” said Heidi Capozzi, senior vice president of human resources at Boeing. “The initiatives will help develop more technical workers and provide research opportunities for women and veterans seeking to join or return to the STEM workforce.”

In addition to Boeing’s investment, NSF’s Directorate for Education and Human Resources will invest $10m in awards focused on reskilling and increasing the skill level of the US STEM workforce.

Boeing will also give a $1m gift to the NSF ‘Includes’ initiative, which aims to enhance US innovation leadership. NSF will use this funding to increase the number of women in STEM fields and address the needs of women and veterans returning to the STEM workforce. With this investment, Boeing becomes the first business to contribute to NSF Includes at a national level.

“We are grateful to Boeing for investing in the future of the US STEM workforce,” said France Cordova, NSF director and leader of the NSF Includes initiative. “These kinds of public-private partnerships can lead to a more technically-proficient workforce with the skills needed to expand our national research and development base.”

This latest investment forms part of Boeing’s 2017 pledge to invest $300m in employees, infrastructure and local communities as a result of US corporate tax cuts, with $100m dedicated to workforce development.

The importance of this announcement has been highlighted by last week’s release of a Whitehouse report into the stability of the US defense manufacturing capabilities that emphasized difficulties in attracting skilled laborers to work for the US government, as skilled engineers, software developers and tradesmen are in short supply. While those shortages apply to much of the US manufacturing base, they are particularly troublesome to military suppliers, such as Boeing and its supply chain, which often have to wait a year or more for those professionals to receive security clearances allowing them to work on secret military programs.