HUNTSVILLE – Boeing celebrated the expansion of its Huntsville Electronic Center of Excellence Monday, with a long list of distinguished guests in attendance. The aerospace giant also presented a $150,000 grant to the Aum Foundation.
U.S. Rep. Dale Strong, State Sen. Steve Livingston, State Rep. Rex Reynolds, Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle, and representatives from U.S. Sens. Tommy Tuberville and Katie Britt, and U.S. Rep. Robert Aderholt’s offices joined the occasion.
“I know very well that the work we do here matters,” said Huntsville native and long-time Boeing employee Robert Green, senior director of Boeing’s Integrated Air and Missile Defense portfolio. “The Center of Excellence supports a number of incredible programs, but I want to recognize a primary catalyst of this expansion.
“That is the need for more Patriot Advanced Capability-3 known as the PAC-3 missile seekers, to support critical and increasing air and missile defense requirements around the globe. Simply put, the circuit assembly done at the center helps keep our men and women in uniform safe from an array of threats in an increasingly complex world.”
The electronic circuit boards made at the Boeing Center support 40 defense and security programs.
The Patriots, used by the U.S. and allies, defend against tactical and hostile aircraft and the center supports the Space Launch System, the International Space Station, Minuteman rotary aircraft, and their missions.
Green said, for 20 years, Boeing employees have kept that and the need for enhanced capability and effectiveness top of mind when they come to work every day – the crucial need to meet evolving threats every day.
“Today our battle-tested, precision-seeker expertise and capabilities remain unmatched,” he said. “It is the direct result of Boeing’s Huntsville Electronic Center of Excellence .. thank you for making today possible.”
Kay Sears, vice president and general manager of Boeing Intelligence and Weapons Systems division, said the 9,000 square-foot expansion represents the latest milestone in Boeing’s long-term strategy for Huntsville, to meet the growing defense space and security needs.
“Demand is outpacing supply and we have to keep up,” she said. “We are adding a significant number of jobs at our site and across the local supply chain.
“In many ways this electronic center is a microcosm of the larger Boeing enterprise, enabling systems that support today’s most important missions ‘from seabed to space’.”
The initial Electronics Center for Excellence opened in 2010 and has produced tens of thousands of circuit cards, a central hardware that connects the smallest of electronics into some of the largest and most powerful weapons systems.
“Boeing is growing in Huntsville,” Sears said. “This expansion is an example of how Boeing has prioritized our investments in facilities and added state-of-the-art capability like automated inspection and robotic soldering equipment that will attract and retain the best and brightest here in Huntsville as it is going to help the U.S. stay ahead of demand.”
Strong, who represents Alabama’s 5th Congressional District, received cheers from the audience when he announced, “It’s great to be back home!”
Strong has been nominated to three House committees important to North Alabama: the Armed Services; Homeland Security; and Science, Space and Technology.
“I couldn’t have picked three better committees to represent North Alabama,” he said. “They will not only impact this community, but I think it will impact the world.
“In D.C., I found out people know where North Alabama is. They understand our role in national security, not only what we have done, but what we are capable of doing.
“We’ve proven what working together as a region can do to for communities, like the more than 30,000 new jobs that have been recruited to this community. And others from around the country are watching what we do.”
Also, Boeing presented a major grant in the amount of $150,000 to the local Aum Foundation that works to empower low-income, female high school students with workforce development skills and resources.
Ashley Brown, the manager of Manufacturing Operations, said partnering with and contributing to the communities where Boeing employees live and work is as important to Boeing’s operations as the products the provide.
“Boeing is deeply committed to STEM education and workforce building initiatives, not just because excellence in STEM is important to the future of our industry, but we are committed to helping students of all backgrounds to achieve their full potential, and we know STEM’s ability to inspire the next generation of leaders and innovators,” said Brown.
“Each student in the AUM Charitable Foundation’s Pathways to Success program receives a $2,000 scholarship, is given a new laptop, a personal mentor, individualized tutoring, and job shadowing experiences as well as 11 life skills classes that address goals and skillsets not covered in the traditional classroom setting.”
Boeing also funds scholarships for Drake State Technical College and Calhoun Community College students.
At Drake State, the scholarships help students complete the school’s engineering design program. The associate’s degree in applied science in advanced manufacturing with a major in engineering design will prepare students for the mechanical, architectural and electronic drafting fields – all skills employees apply for regularly at the Electronic Center of Excellence.
“These relationships ensure there is a pipeline fulfilling our workforce needs,” said Brown. “They drive innovation and competitiveness, and we must have skilled workers who can fill the projected job growth … not only to Boeing but the state of Alabama.”