Competing With Silicon Valley For Engineers, Aerospace Firms Start Recruitment In Pre-Kindergarten

By Samantha Masunaga
Los Angeles Times

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) Aerospace employers are realizing they have to dig deeper, and adjust their messaging, to capture top tech talent. They are starting to reach out earlier to potential employees, as early as elementary school or even pre-kindergarten, to get them interested in science and math.

LOS ANGELES

USC mechanical engineering junior Stephanie Balais developed a passion for aerospace after joining the university’s AeroDesign team and helping to construct an airplane fuselage hours before transporting the plane to a competition in Kansas.

As internships beckoned, she sent in a number of applications to top defense and aerospace firms. But Microsoft Corp. snagged her first. This summer, Balais, 20, will spend 13 weeks in Redmond, Wash., working in the tech giant’s manufacturing and supply chain department.

Silicon Valley and other tech centers have always been popular landing places for young engineers, with their lure of cutting-edge technology and top-notch pay. But aerospace companies are facing an even stiffer challenge as web and computer companies, and other sectors like the auto industry, move into areas like drones and autonomous systems.

Aerospace employers are realizing they have to dig deeper, and adjust their messaging, to capture top tech talent.

They are starting to reach out earlier to potential employees, as early as elementary school or even pre-kindergarten, to get them interested in science and math. And they’re recognizing the challenge they have building awareness with a generation that never had a real space race, but grew up with Google, Snapchat and Apple as part of their daily lives.

“This is something that’s very critical to our member companies,” said Dan Stohr, spokesman for the Aerospace Industries Association trade group. “They’re putting serious money into this, to the tune of millions of dollars a year.”

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