Pacific Northwest Aerospace Alliance (PNAA)

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PNAA's First Women in Aerospace Conference a Huge Success


Nearly 70 aerospace men and women turned out for PNAA's first-ever Women in Aerospace Luncheon to network, and learn about Washington State’s latest manufacturing statistics, the challenges and benefits of a multigenerational workforce, and program updates from Blue Origin and Modumetal.  In addition, Julia Walters-Burns, Boeing’s Director of Business Operations, made a special cameo appearance to share the inspirational story of her non-traditional journey to the executive suite.

After a snappy three minute Powerpoint presentation featuring photos of over 50 local women in a variety of aerospace jobs, PNAA’s Chief Operating Officer Melanie Jordan introduced the non-profit organization’s new Executive Director Bob Uptagrafft.   Uptagrafft kicked off the event by introducing Regional Labor Economist for the Washington State Employment Security Department Anneliese Vance-Sherman who told the crowd of mostly female aerospace executives and managers, that for the past 20 years, the proportion of women in aerospace jobs has remained relatively constant at approximately 25-30% of the workforce.  

In addition, she said the wage gap is closing.  “This is where opportunity comes in for women.  While female workers in non-aerospace jobs average approximately $41,000 per year, their counterparts in the aerospace industry average $77,000 annually.   There are definite advantages to being a woman in the aerospace industry,” Vance-Sherman said.

With nearly 60% of the aerospace workforce 45 years or older and approximately 30% nearing retirement age -- young, educated women have real opportunities for growth within the industry.  

Walter-Burns-72Boeing Executive Julia Walters-Burns is living proof that talented women can enjoy high level aerospace careers without following the traditional aerospace career path.  Although her story began in the family grocery store when she was just 12, she learned every aspect of the business, went to college and held a variety of jobs that gave her increased skills and responsibilities.  On her journey, she found herself in the unglamorous role of Project Manager for METRO’s Sewage Treatment Plant.  However, it provided her with the knowledge that paved her way to a job at Boeing, and she’s never looked back.   

“Aerospace has tremendous opportunities regardless of gender,” Walters-Burns said.  “There is a place for everybody.”  
“The commercial airplane market is presenting unprecedented opportunities,” Walters-Burns said.  “The industry keeps raising its production rates -- 40% over the last four years.”  The current market outlook projects over 35,000 new planes over the next 20 years – valued at $4.8 trillion.  “That’s more than a lot of money.  It’s a lot of mechanics, engineers, and rocket scientists – we need people to fly and to keep them flying!”  

Multi-generation teams will play an important role in aerospace’s future and according to Jay Schmidt, Instructor of Multi-Generational Kinetics at Clackamas Community College and Vice President of Business Development at Silicon Forest Electronics, how a company prepares to do that will be important.  

jay-72“Generational differences can either build organizational strength or create discord,” he said.  Understanding the differences between the generations and what inspires them to do their best work, is important.  Schmidt says that generational differences are primarily driven by new technology and parenting styles that have shaped employees and the workforce.

“There are strategic advantages to creating multi-generational teams,” he said.  By understanding the work-life balances between each generation, and using each generation to their strength, employers can create dynamic teams.”

During the three hour luncheon, attendees also received program updates from two leading local aerospace companies.
Erika Wagner, Business Development Manager of Blue Origin, a Kent-based company working to lower the cost of space flight, updated attendees about her company’s research into reusable systems.  According to Wagner, Blue Origin is focused on developing reusable launch vehicles using rocket-powered Vertical Take-off and Vertical Landing technology.  They are focused on reusable systems in order to reduce the cost and increase the access to space.  

“Today, over 1,000 people hold tickets to travel into space,” Wagner said.  The company is changing the way people think about space travel and it has seen robust growth.  Over the past few years, Blue Origin has grown from 160 employees to 340 employees in Washington and Texas with many opportunities for all regardless of gender.

Wagner-72While Blue Origin changes the way people think about space, Modumetal founder and CEO Christina Lomasney wants to change people’s experience with metals.  Her company is revolutionizing metals through nanolamination which she explained is similar to how wood is made stronger by layering.  

“By using our patented coating and cladding technology in demanding, highly corrosive and punishing environments, we are demonstrating significant improvements in the performance, durability and longevity of oil-producing assets, all while maintaining cost competitiveness with commodity metal products,” Lomasney said.

The material cost savings could add up when you consider the number of fasteners the aerospace industry uses and replaces each year.  Lomasney, a natural born leader and entrepreneur, is an inspiration to all who want to create innovative solutions, own and lead a manufacturing company to success.

As the Women in Aerospace Luncheon came to a close, PNAA’s Chief Operating Officer Melanie Jordan said, “Today was dedicated to raising the profile of women in the aerospace industry and giving our members the opportunity to invest in building social capital - the economic benefit from social networks which create cooperation between individuals and groups increasing economic value.  We build business one connection at a time, and this room full of powerful aerospace stakeholders are creating business relationships with every handshake.”

PNAA is dedicated to promoting the aerospace industry in the Pacific Northwest and according to its Executive Director Bob Uptagrafft, “Convening the Women of Aerospace on a regular basis will be one of the next steps PNAA develops as the organization grows in the future.”

About PNAA:
Since 2001, Pacific Northwest Aerospace Alliance has been promoting the growth and success of the region's aerospace industry with dynamic events designed to inspire aerospace leaders, connect aerospace interests and educate policy makers.  Today, with members throughout the northwest and around the globe, PNAA is dedicated to delivering the latest market intelligence to ensure our region's competitive edge.  Its unwavering commitment to sharing bold ideas, innovative technologies and leading edge processes has strengthened the industry and earned respect from the White House to the factory floor.  PNAA’s members represent every segment of the aerospace industry and are responsible for designing, manufacturing and supplying parts and services for building planes, launching rockets, and even landing on Mars!



An Aerospace Luncheon for Men and Women

July 25, 2014 • 11:00 a.m. - 2:00 p.m.

Today’s aerospace women are designing, engineering and assembling in all aspects of aerospace manufacturing. Join PNAA for a unique presentation of the analytics on the changing trends and demographics within manufacturing.  This three hour, information-packed luncheon is a must attend for men and women looking for the latest market intelligence.

Topics include:
•    The changing demographics of manufacturing
•    Multi-generational differences
•    Program updates from Blue Origin and Modumetal

Speakers include:
•  Erika Wagner, Ph.D, Business Development Manager, Blue Origin
•  Christina Lomasney, President and CEO, Modumetal
•  Anneliese Vance-Sherman, Ph.D., Regional Labor Economist, WA State Employment Security
•  Jay Schmidt, VP of Business Development, Silicon Forest Electronics

Friday, July 25, 2014
Time: 11:00 a.m. - 2:00 p.m.
Museum of Flight
   9404 East Marginal Way S, Seattle, WA 98108
PNAA Members: $75
Non-members: $100
Includes a plated lunch
Directions: Click here


About our Speakers:

Erika WagnerDr. Erika Wagner serves as Business Development Manager for Blue Origin, LLC, a developer of vehicles and technologies to enable human space transportation. Prior to joining Blue Origin, Dr. Wagner worked with the X PRIZE Foundation as Senior Director of Exploration Prize Development and founding Executive Director of the X PRIZE Lab@MIT. Previously, she served at MIT as Science Director and Executive Director of the Mars Gravity Biosatellite Program, a multi-university spacecraft development initiative to investigate the physiological effects of reduced gravity. From 2009 to 2012, Erika was a member of the Commercial Spaceflight Federation’s Suborbital Applications Researchers Group, furthering the research and education potential of commercial suborbital launch vehicles. Today, she serves on the Boards of the Washington Aerospace Scholars, AIAA Pacific Northwest Section, and American Society for Gravitational and Space Research.

Dr. Wagner’s interdisciplinary academic background includes a bachelor’s in Biomedical Engineering from Vanderbilt University, a master’s in Aeronautics & Astronautics from MIT, and a PhD in Bioastronautics from the Harvard/MIT Division of Health Sciences and Technology.  Her research spanned both human and mammalian adaptation to microgravity, partial gravity, and centrifugation; as well as organizational innovation and prize theory. She is also an alumna of the International Space University.

Christina LomasneyChristina Lomasney is the CEO, President and co-founder of Modumetal.  Together with her team, she is realizing the Company’s vision of revolutionizing the way major industries approach the design and production of advanced metal coatings and parts.   Today, Modumetal is pioneering nanolaminated metals manufacturing to enable the deployment of these ultra-high performance metals in a growing number of large-scale industrial and consumer applications.

Christina has worked in the research, development and commercialization of advanced materials technologies for over a decade, starting at The Boeing Company, where she served in engineering roles including in Phantomworks’ advanced metals manufacturing department.   Christina later founded Isotron Corporation, an advanced materials company, which today holds a portfolio of advanced materials technologies and commercial products for environmental cleanup and national defense.

Christina holds a BS in Physics from the University of Washington, where she completed undergraduate research in electrochemistry and graduate studies towards a MS in Applied Physics.  She has published and is named inventor on several pending patents in large-scale environmental remediation and nanostructured materials applications.

Anneliese-VSAnneliese Vance-Sherman is the labor market economist covering Island, King, San Juan, Skagit, Snohomish and Whatcom Counties for the Employment Security Department (ESD). She has been with ESD for four years. Prior to state service, Anneliese was a visiting fellow at the Border Policy Research Institute at Western Washington University and taught courses in Economics, Geography and Management. She has a Ph.D. in Economic Geography and a Master’s Degree in Economics both from the State University of New York at Buffalo. Her undergraduate studies were in Sociology and Urban Studies

Jay schmidtJay Schmidt is the Vice President-Business Development for Silicon Forest Electronics, a supplier of electronics manufacturing services for the aerospace & unmanned systems industries.  Mr. Schmidt is also a part-time instructor at Clackamas CC in Leadership studies.  He holds an MBA from Concordia University and has held senior leadership positions within the Danaher Corporation and Tyco.


Women in Aerospace Presentations

Aerospace Demographics
Anneliese Vance-Sherman

Bridging the Gaps
Jay Schmidt

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