Boeing Visits North and South Tech High Schools
November 15, 2021 - Dozens of North and South Tech students spent an afternoon interacting with Boeing industry professionals, learning what it’s like to work as skilled assembly and sheet metal mechanics. The instructors gave an introductory demonstration on how to build and maintain the structure of an aircraft, with an emphasis on accuracy and precision.
“We want the students to learn how to get everything right the first time. You really have to focus on quality,” said Boeing mechanic and 2019 North Tech graduate Matthew Martin. “Every little thing could go wrong. This plane is going 1,800 miles per hour up there in the sky. If one little thing goes wrong, it could be deadly.”
The demonstration was hosted by members of the Boeing Pre-Employment Training Program, offered by St. Louis Community College at the Center for Workforce Innovation. Representatives offer five activities throughout the year, including a student information presentation, two hands-on in-school demonstrations, a parent information session, and student field trip to Boeing.
“It’s a very clear pathway that doesn’t involve them incurring debt,” said Sally Difani, administrator of community partnerships. “They are getting the benefit of a short-term training program that leads to full-time employment and a lot of really amazing benefits, health, medical, and tuition reimbursement, too.”
Students spent time prior to the day of the demonstration getting familiar with reading blueprints and using some of the tools required in skilled assembly work. Math Instructor Julia Wilson created practice problems and walked students through dimension calculations and how to interpret the fastener layout, a design of the plane's mechanical structure.
“I’d like to work for Boeing directly after high school,” said senior Caelen Wilson. “The presentation showed me the basics and gave me a good head start.”
2020 South Tech graduate and Boeing Mechanic Sean Ard attended the demonstration and credits South Tech for encouraging him to change his mindset and have a willingness to learn.
“Pretty much the moment I heard about the program through the different presentations that we had, I liked what I was seeing and signed up for the program right after graduating,” said Ard.
The pre-employment program is free as costs are covered by Boeing. When the program is completed, most students are guaranteed an interview. South Tech senior Matthew Zigreng has not yet decided what he wants to do after graduating, but says that the Boeing demonstration was a great experience and that he learned a lot in a short amount of time. A total of nine graduates of North and South Tech High Schools have started their professional careers at Boeing since the program began. The Boeing Pre-Employment Training Program was also honored with the 2021 Special Ambassador Award. For more information about the program, please contact Sally Difani at 314.989.8273.