The Center of Excellence was honored to attend the 2017 Paris Air Show. Executive Director, Mary Kaye Bredeson,  participated in panel discussions, met with dignitaries from European countries, and toured Airbus to name a few items.

Bredeson also attended sessions regarding what to expect in future aircraft design and technology – a huge area of innovation in the industry that will require skilled labor.

Per the Washington Department of Commerce website, there are about 1,400 companies in Washington’s aerospace supply chain, “which serves Boeing, Airbus and every other major aircraft manufacturer in the world. More than 136,000 workers support the aerospace industry in Washington which is also a growing hub for space commercialization.”

Out of 18 companies, and 65 delegates from Washington, many deals were made to bring new business to Washington.

Mary Kaye Bredeson, executive director served on a panel regarding workforce development with several other Washington representatives. The panel was led by John Thornquist with Department of Commerce.

Creating the Future – Overcoming Aerospace Workforce Challenges – Panel 

The purpose of the panel was to focus on:

  • Attracting and retaining qualified aerospace industry workers
  • Collaboration across borders
  • Raise general awareness and enthusiasm in STEM education and training
  • Focus on the specific needs of the aerospace and defense sectors.

Moderated by John Thornquist, Director, Office of Aerospace, Governor’s Aerospace Sector Lead, Office of Economic Development and Competitiveness, WA Department of Commerce


  • Colonel Al Worden, Apollo 15 Command Module Pilot and Member of the Board Astronaut Scholarship Foundation
  • Mary Kaye Bredeson, Executive Director, Center of Excellence for Aerospace & Advanced Manufacturing, Washington
  • Larry Cluphf, Executive Director, Washington Aerospace Training & Research (WATR) Center
  • Sabine Haman , Human Resources Director, Safran Aircraft Engines
  • Paul Bowles, Global Resourcing Leader, Thales
  • Professor Sorron, ISAE – ENSMA (Aerospace Engineering School)

Questions asked, and discussed

1. How serious a situation does the aerospace industry face due to lack of appropriate workforce skills?

2. How can our industry compete more effectively with other “high-tech” sectors such as healthcare, communications and mobile technology to steer gifted young people to enter the aerospace field?

3. What are companies doing to retain employees? What incentives seem to matter most? Is salary the primary driving factor or are there other considerations?

4. What are the offerings made in our colleges, training centers, primary, and secondary schools that focus on degrees and certifications? Is there enough? Are they in the right places?

5. How does subject matter taught in schools in the USA and Europe adapt to the knowledge requirements of the changing aerospace industry?

6. Are there successful examples of “apprenticeship programs” currently in place on either side of the Atlantic?

7. What impact does the cost of obtaining a college degree in different countries have on the availability of trained aerospace industry professionals?

8. Are aerospace manufacturing jobs perceived as “clean” or “dirty”? That is, in the minds of potential workers, does working in an aerospace manufacturing facility compare more closely to working in a coal mine, or to working in a laboratory? Do such perceptions matter? What efforts are being made to improve the industry’s “image” if that is necessary?

9. What actions is the industry as a whole — and individual companies — taking to reach out to women and minority communities?

10. What “conquests” still exist in the aerospace sector that can excite and motivate a gifted student? Are there any inspirational “missions” left to pursue?

11. What educational / career advice would you offer an eight-year-old girl who is seeking a pathway into the aerospace workforce fifteen years from now?