BY MICHAELE DUKE
Williamsburg County students and citizens got a peek at what it’s like to be a part of the aerospace giant Boeing South Carolina. On January 11, representatives from the company visited public and private schools as well as Hemingway Career and Technology Center and Williams Muscadine Vineyard and Farm.
The daylong visit, sponsored by S.C. Department of Commerce, Williamsburg County School District, Williamsburg Technical College and others, culminated in a community engagement held at Santee Electric Cooperative. Guests included Senator Ronnie Sabb, Carl Anderson, S.C. House of Representative, Dist. 103, Cezar McKnight, S.C. House of Representative, Dist. 101, and Williamsburg County Supervisor Stanley Pasley. Tonya Brown, anchor, WPDE News 15 was the mistress of ceremony.
Boeing S.C. National Strategy and Engagement Government Operations, Tommy Preston, Jr. presented a wealth of information about Boeing, which is celebrating its 100th anniversary. In October 2009, Boeing selected the North Charleston site for a new 787 Dreamliner final assembly and delivery line. The final assembly building is nearly a fifth of a mile long and an eighth of a mile wide.
The first airplane rolled out of final assembly on April 27, 2012. In 2014, Boeing South Carolina broke ground on a new state-of-the-art, 256,000-square-foot decorative paint facility to open in late 2016. Boeing is currently producing 10 airplanes per month under the 787 program (combined production in South Carolina and Everett, Washington). It is projected to increase to 12 per month this year, and to 14 per month before the end of the decade.
Two students from Williamsburg Academy (WA) were recognized Evan Williamson and Tyler Allen were impressed with Boeing’s presentation. “I learned a lot about Boeing and the opportunities they offer,” said Williamson, who is a senior at WA. He had a chance to talk with Education Relations Frank Hatten who spent the day visiting the county’s public and private schools. “I asked him what job opportunities they offered for electrical engineers, their partnership with the University of South Carolina for internships.” Allen was interested in careers and opportunities for a physics major. “I thought it was very interesting,” said Allen who is also a senior. “It was told to me that they offer several jobs in research and development working on new aircraft sonar systems.”
Trentiss Shaw, a resident of Salters, also attended the Boeing Community Engagement at Santee Electric Cooperative. A former mechanic, Shaw currently works with parts, which she said was afforded her through Boeing’s onsite employee training.
Shaw also echoed most of what is espoused by the corporation. “Education is important but so is character,” said Shaw who has been with Boeing since 2008. “Kids don’t believe that character is important but it is. Honesty is important too, because this (the aircraft) is something that you touch and build. People’s lives are riding in them so you have to take this job seriously.”
Shaw gave credit to her fellow Boeing associates for her success. “You may not have the best knowledge, you may not have a college degree but you never know whose paying attention, whose is willing to pull you out – someone who will give you that opportunity to grow.”
Since Sept. 2012, Boeing South Carolina has reached more than 100,000 middle and high school students through its DreamLearners Tour Program and Speakers Bureau. Students in grades fifth to 12th are invited to participate in the program.
For more information email Education Relations, Boeing South Carolina at Dreamlearnertours@boeing.com.
To see photos from the event, visit www.kingstreenews.com/photos.