The Engineering Technology students at Palm Beach State College are developing high-demand skills for careers in advanced manufacturing, and Pratt & Whitney has taken notice.
A global leader in the design, manufacture and service of aircraft engines, Pratt & Whitney has been supporting the Engineering Technology Associate in Science degree program through student scholarships, career mentoring, internships, lab equipment, guest lectures and expert feedback on curriculum.
Pratt & Whitney also provides networking opportunities. In recognition of National Engineers Week, more than a dozen students and staff members from the program visited Pratt & Whitney’s West Palm Beach site on Feb. 21 to see firsthand what it’s like to work there.
The students started their day with a site tour, beginning with the West Palm Beach MRO Engine Center, where they learned about the game-changing technology of the PW1100G-JM Geared Turbofan engine that powers the Airbus A320neo, followed by a visit to the West Palm Beach Product Delivery Center to see how an F135 engine is assembled. After the tour, students enjoyed lunch and participated in a speed mentoring activity with Mary Anne Cannon, vice president, West Palm Beach Site & Development Operations, along with current engineers from various functional areas, giving them the chance to network and ask questions about working at Pratt & Whitney.
“We were so happy to host the students from the Engineering Technology program at Palm Beach State College to get a firsthand look at the innovative technology we build here and what it is like to work at Pratt & Whitney in West Palm Beach,” said Cannon. “We understand the importance of growing and educating the next generation of talent and future workforce for our company, so to be able to host such a talented group of students, who potentially could be working here in the coming years, was a perfect way to kick off our 2022 National Engineers Week celebration.”
Several Executive Eagle Scholarship winners were among the visiting students. The scholarship program, funded by Pratt & Whitney, has awarded scholarships to 17 Engineering Technology students since 2021 to help with their annual tuition and fees, with the plan to fund an additional 10 scholarships in the coming year.
Scholarship recipient Mary Ngo, 29 balances her part-time studies with a full-time work schedule in the service industry. Her transition to engineering came after a lot of research into the field, and the support and interactions with Pratt & Whitney have been critical to her growth in this new career path.
“The money helps so much with paying for my classes and reduces my stress tremendously, but for them to take time out of their day to share their experiences, that also means a lot to me,” Ngo said. “I want to study aerodynamics, so talking to the mentors personally, one-on-one, and learning how they do their day-to-day, really helped me see what it would be like to work in the aerospace sector.”
A longtime supporter of various PBSC programs and initiatives, Pratt & Whitney makes an especially strong ally for the Engineering Technology program and its department chair Professor Eva Suarez, who values close collaboration with industry.
“I don’t want to be training in an ivory tower. Our degrees aren’t really worth anything unless they’re relevant to companies, especially locally,” Suarez said. “On the tour, our students were welcomed with such enthusiasm by the Pratt & Whitney engineers, managers and technicians. The time we spent in the manufacturing areas for commercial and military engine assembly showed students the potential of working for such a prestigious operation. It was a fantastic experience that our students will never forget.”