Pridco program breeding future aerospace engineers
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration will soon put in orbit a small satellite dubbed “CINEMA,” developed by a group of eight Puerto Rican engineering students in collaboration with engineers and scientists from the University of California at Berkeley. This joint effort is the result of the Satellite Engineering for the Development of Puerto Rico’s Aerospace Workforce program, sponsored by the Puerto Rico Industrial Development Company.
The agency has invested upward of $500,000 to prepare local engineers to enter the aerospace field.
This summer, more than 30 students enrolled in engineering programs are taking part in internships in the aerospace industry as part of that program, which was established in 2010 with the goal of training a competent workforce for an industry that creates well-paid jobs and is growing in Puerto Rico.
Since its inception, companies such as Honeywell Aerospace and Infotech have hired more than 20 program participants.
“Students participating in this program have an opportunity to gain knowledge that will be invaluable when seeking a job in the aerospace industry, which is growing on the island and will surely offer excellent opportunities for these future engineers,” said José Pérez-Riera, executive director of Pridco.
“Having access to information and experiences such as the ones this group is having contributes to the formation of a more competitive workforce with the potential to make Puerto Rico a leader in this important industry,” said Pérez-Riera, who is also Secretary of Economic Development and Commerce.
Students participating in the Satellite Engineering for the Development of Puerto Rico’s Aerospace Workforce program collaborate on projects of designing and building experimental satellites, gaining access to a diverse group of scientists, universities and research organizations related to the aerospace industry.
Furthermore, the group that worked on the CINEMA satellite includes students who worked on other projects, including NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center’s “Firefly CubeSat” initiative.
Since September 2010, the aerospace industry has vowed to create more than 2,900 jobs in Puerto Rico and industry jobs are growing at an annual rate of 20 percent, he said.
The sector offers opportunities for technical and specialized professionals, mainly engineers and software system developers. Companies comprising the aerospace sector include: Axon Puerto Rico, Infotech Aerospace Services, Lockheed Martin, Honeywell, Essig Research, Florida Turbine Technologies and Hamilton Sundstrand.
The Satellite Engineering for the Development of Puerto Rico’s Aerospace Workforce program is part of the NASA Space Grant Consortium on the island, which has provided support to establish a satellite-engineering laboratory at the Inter American University’s Bayamón campus.