Spirit AeroSystems and Wichita State University announced a new collaboration agreement, bringing with it new opportunities for students and the area workforce.
The agreement, focused on accelerating research and development and improving workforce training services, establishes an innovative relationship with Spirit through WSU's National Institute for Aviation Research (NIAR) and the Campus of Applied Sciences and Technology (WSU Tech).
Three areas of strategic focus will include: applied learning opportunities for WSU students, joint strategic research projects, and improved workforce training services to meet the growing demands of the aerospace industry.
Spirit will establish a presence at Wichita State by leasing space in the Partnership 2 Building north of the Experiential Engineering Building on the east side of campus.
Other tenants in the building – which is expected for completion in April – will include the College of Engineering (COE) Student Success Center, COE administrative offices and WSU's FirePoint Innovation Center, a partnership with the U.S. Army's Aviation and Missile Research, Development and Engineering Center.
Locating at Wichita State will facilitate enhanced cooperation between WSU and Spirit on projects such as advanced composites R&D, rapid prototyping, product development and testing, and additive manufacturing and design.
“This type of university/industry collaboration is exactly the kind needed to strengthen the regional economy and prepare students for careers in the aerospace and manufacturing industries,” said WSU President John Bardo. “It's also a prime example of university research labs working in concert with the workforce training capabilities of WSU Tech. Spirit's commitment to accelerating its R&D initiatives by partnering with the university will provide long-lasting benefits for the company, the community and generations of students.”
Increased production rates at Spirit and the launch of growth initiatives in fabrication and defense are driving needs for a higher-skilled workforce equipped for advanced manufacturing. Revamping the workforce training model with WSU, together with other aerospace manufacturers, will improve the pipeline of qualified workers needed within the aviation industry.
“Strengthening our collaboration with WSU helps Spirit accelerate our advanced research initiatives and improve training opportunities for our workforce,” said Spirit President and CEO Tom Gentile. “As we grow our R&D investment, this innovative relationship with NIAR and WSU Tech multiplies the effectiveness of our own resources. This new level of cooperation will have a lasting benefit to our company, the university and the state of Kansas.”