EVERETT -- Boeing is putting $6 million into local STEM education to create new generations of qualified employees.
One million of it adds to investments already made at the college level. The rest is going to elementary and high schools.
A pilot class at McMicken Heights Elementary is teaching kids about their future potential in high tech fields.
Boeing is counting on some of these kids choosing to work for them in another decade or so.
“So, what we're trying to do is invest locally here, to make sure we have the young people prepared, ready to go in both terms of engineering and manufacturing as well,” said Ray Conner, who heads Boeing’s airliner business.
Conner said Boeing has a demographic problem.
“We're going to have a tremendous amount of our work force that's going to retire over the course of the next five to 10 years. That's a significant number,” said Conner.
STEM focuses on teaching student science, technology, engineering and math.
Patrick D'Amelio, with Washington STEM, is helping administer the money with a focus on K-12 programs.
"We have just scratched the surface of what the need looks like," said D'Amelio. "There are a million students in the system, every single student needs to be exposed."
Diana Ryan’s 5th grade class in the Highline School District is an opportunity for Boeing to expose kids to a well-paying career. Nancy Huai is 10 years old, and she can't think of an engineer in her family.
“I would like to become one -- one day,” said Huai.
“It's exciting to see the lights go on, the engagement from the kids and understanding they can do this,” said Ryan. “Students and families are hungry for this type of learning and we have a big job to do here.”
The company is working with some 50 nonprofits and educational institutions to reach the state's elementary and high school students.
Copyright 2016 KING