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Joint WSU Everett, Clemson University initiative to better prepare students for careers at Boeing

Washington State University and Clemson University students pose together inside a manufacturing facility.

Two land-grant universities in states where Boeing has a large footprint, have launched a pivotal partnership designed to spur shared knowledge and collaboration among the aerospace giant’s future workforce.

Washington State University Everett and South Carolina-based Clemson University formed CATTs (Cougars and Tigers Together) as a joint initiative to better prepare college students for successful careers at Boeing.

The CATTs program kicked off in Everett last week with the arrival of students from Clemson University. They toured Boeing and other advanced manufacturing companies in Snohomish County and work with WSU Everett students designing autonomous cabin disinfection systems for airplanes. Given the recent COVID-19 pandemic, and the potential for future pandemics, rapid and thorough disinfection of airplane cabins is a high priority both for public safety and to manage airline operating costs. The CATTs team will develop a solution that can be deployed during post-flight cleaning that eliminates viral and bacterial contamination and reduces aircraft turnaround time. The project culminates in Spring 2022 when WSU Everett students travel to South Carolina and, along with their Clemson teammates, present their final report to Boeing leaders.

“We are proud to support students in the states where many of our employees live and work,” said Craig Bomben, vice president of Boeing Flight Operations and Test & Evaluation Design Build. “This unique partnership helps facilitate a robust talent pipeline while helping students fulfill their career ambitions.”

Clemson and WSU share collective strengths in engineering education, global reputation, and land-grant history, and are well-positioned for collaboration due to their close geographic proximity to Boeing’s factories in Everett, Washington and North Charleston, South Carolina. Boeing, which is providing financial support to each school to fund student travel and project expenses, is a large employer of Clemson and WSU graduates.

“At WSU Everett, collaboration is in our DNA,” Chancellor Paul Pitre said. “As we prepare the next generation of aerospace thinkers and leaders – many of whom will work at Boeing – it makes sense to partner and model the kind of creative collaboration our industry partners want.”

“Providing students with opportunities to address real-world challenges through experiential learning is at the core of a Clemson education,” said Provost Bob Jones. “The knowledge and experience these students will gain from the ability to directly interface with Boeing highlight the benefits of industry partnerships in higher education.”

In addition to developing a technical solution, these multidisciplinary teams will develop a business plan and marketing strategy to support product development. Student teams will also engage with younger students (K-12 and college) in their respective communities through various portals to promote STEM education and the value of education.

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