Iron County students get ready to exchange building pencil holders for building airplanes

Kaden Chaston, a student enrolled in the new Utah Aerospace Pathways Program launching this fall, took a tour of the Syberjet that brought the governor into Cedar City Tuesday for a press conference to announce the program. Cedar City, Utah April 26, 2016 | Photos taken by Cedar City News Reporter Tracie Sullivan. St. George/Cedar City News

CEDAR CITY – Instead of learning how to build tables and pencil holders in wood shop this coming school year, several high school students in Iron County will trade in their saws for a chance to learn how to build parts for F-35 fighter jets and for rocket engines used in the Orbital ATK, Boeing 757s and SyberJet aircraft.

MSC Aerospace representatives present Governor Gary Herbert with his own Syberjet Tuesday during the press conference to announce the new Utah Aerospace Pathways Program in Iron County School District this coming fall. Cedar City, Utah, April 26, 2016 | Photos taken by Cedar City News Reporter Tracie Sullivan. St. George/Cedar City News Reporter
MSC Aerospace representatives present Gov. Gary Herbert with his own Syberjet Tuesday during a press conference announcing the new Utah Aerospace Pathways Program starting this fall in the Iron County School District. Cedar City, Utah, April 26, 2016 | Photos taken by Cedar City News Reporter Tracie Sullivan. St. George/Cedar City News Reporter

The Utah Aerospace Pathways Program, started last September in Davis and Granite School District, is expanding to Southern Utah. There are already 14 incoming Iron County seniors enrolled in the program that will launch this fall.

Gov. Gary R. Herbert announced the expansion of the new program to Cedar City in a press conference Tuesday where he was surrounded by several local and state dignitaries.

“The Utah Aerospace Pathways program expansion into Cedar City provides a great economic impact for Iron County,” Herbert said. “This innovative program is addressing our state’s skilled labor force demand and is a model for the rest of the nation.”

The Utah Aerospace Pathways Program enables students to graduate with an aerospace manufacturing certificate, participate in an internship with MSC Aerospace and helps them with job placement upon graduation.

“MSC Aerospace not only builds complex aircraft components for the U.S. Military and companies like Boeing, Northrop Grumman and Lockheed Martin – the company also builds the fastest, highest flying, longest range light jet in the world,” Whitney Clayton, CEO of MSC Aerospace, said. “To do that, we need top-tier, highly skilled workers.”

Ben Hart, managing director for the Urban and Rural Services in the Governor's Office of Economic Development, speaks to the crowd Tuesday who came out for the launching of the new Utah Aerospace Pathways Program that already has 14 high school seniors enrolled for this next fall. Cedar City, Utah April 26, 2016 | Photos taken by Cedar City News Reporter Tracie Sullivan. St. George/Cedar City News
Ben Hart, managing director for Urban and Rural Services in the Governor’s Office of Economic Development, speaks to the crowd Tuesday that came out for the launching of the new Utah Aerospace Pathways Program that already has 14 high school seniors enrolled this fall. Cedar City, Utah April 26, 2016 | Photos taken by Cedar City News Reporter Tracie Sullivan. St. George/Cedar City News

The program is free to high school students enrolled in the Iron County School District.

Kaden Chaston, a 17-year-old student at Canyon High School, is one of the 14 students enrolled in the program this fall.

“I’m really excited about the fact I get to build airplanes,” Chaston said. “They’ve (aunt and uncle) been wanting me to go into this career just because it’s a good career they think. My aunt has been bugging me about going into it, so once I heard about this I took the opportunity. It’s a new thing so I figured, why not learn something new and find out what it is and if I like it I’ll stay with it.”

Kaden Chaston’s mother, Desiree Chaston, said she is really grateful her son has a chance to have a good job immediately after high school.

“It’s a good opportunity. It’s a good job career and gives him something to look forward to when he graduates high school and not have to sit around and wonder what he’s going to do with his life,” Desiree Chaston said.

Cedar City Economic Director Danny Stewart said the program is good for the community economically and opens up doors that would not otherwise be there.

Iron County School District Shannon Dulaney discusses the launching of the new Utah Aerospace Pathways Program in Cedar City. The program already has 14 high school seniors enrolled this next fall. Cedar City, Utah April 26, 2016 | Photos taken by Cedar City News Reporter Tracie Sullivan. St. George/Cedar City News
Iron County School District Superintendent Shannon Dulaney discusses the launching of the Utah Aerospace Pathways Program in Cedar City. The program already has 14 high school seniors enrolled this fall. Cedar City, Utah April 26, 2016 | Photos taken by Cedar City News Reporter Tracie Sullivan. St. George/Cedar City News

“Economically for the city it does a lot of things. For one thing, it puts us on the map. People will be able to see the innovative things we’re doing and the partnerships between the educational system and our industry,” Stewart said. “A qualified workforce is really a big issue right now nationwide. A qualified, educated workforce is hard to find and this will show Cedar City can provide workers for high-tech aerospace industries and many other industries.”

Stewart’s comments echoed Herbert’s sentiments who said 20,000 Utahns hold careers in aerospace. The average pay is $70,000.

“I hope the Utah Aerospace Pathways Program continues to grow and provide opportunities to young people to have skills that can translate into good paying jobs here in Utah and maybe around the country,” Herbert said.

The program’s launch was made possible through the dedication and commitment of several organizations throughout Utah, including the Governor’s Office of Economic Development and the Department of Workforce Services. Iron County School District, Southwest Applied Technology College, and the State Office of Education have also worked through the educational requirements, developing the curriculum and providing teachers and school career counselors with the necessary materials.

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Email: tsullivan@stgnews.com

Twitter: tracie_sullivan

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2016, all rights reserved.

 

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