Posted On: June 27, 2019
by Annie Donnell and Dylan Farmer
As our career journey continued, DREAM BIG took a trip to Boeing. Students began the day touring the F-18 assembly line. It takes 11 steps to manufacture one F-18 exit, and it takes two weeks to build one complete airplane. Each participant had an opportunity to see the process of the plane just going through the first stages of manufacturing, to the finished product. Boeing employees build the first half of the plane, and the second half of the plane gets shipped from California to St. Louis where employees connect the entire plane together. This tour was a hit for all participants, and all raved about the tour. Calvin excitedly remarked, “My favorite part of the day so far is that I saw wings that go to the jets.”
Next, students visited the James S. McDonnell Prologue Room and freely walked around to look at as many airplanes as they could find. Students were fascinated by this room and were intrigued by all the information and models. Students took several pictures and videos to capture their experience.
Continuing the day, Starkloff staff led a lesson on IEP’S, 504’s, and self-advocacy. Craig said, “The biggest thing I have learned from our afternoon sessions is that to be a self-advocate, you really have to stand up for yourself. Self-advocacy does not always mean living alone by yourself. It can also mean having others lean on your back, and help you grow as a person.”
Afterward, students participated in a speed mentoring session with employees at Boeing. John, Michelle, Jen, Paul, and Ieisha spoke with participants on topics including experiences at Boeing, their jobs, diversity and inclusion in the workplace, advice when working, and company culture. Each mentoring session lasted for fifteen minutes, and it gave everyone an opportunity to learn more about the participants and Boeing employees. Camp correspondents also participated in the mentoring sessions by focusing questions primarily on diversity, inclusion, hiring people with disabilities, and what sparked Boeing employees interest in participating in this mentoring session today. Employees involved in the mentoring session worked in different departments including HR, Leadership learning in organizational capacity (LLOC), engineering, and training.
Several employees stressed how the culture of Boeing has changed over the past ten years, and it is an inclusive place to work for people of all backgrounds and all abilities. Some of the mentors also opened up about why they wanted to participate in the mentoring session. Paul stated how it was personal for him, because his sister has disabilities. Since he is not in his hometown where she is, he thought this would be a great way to give back. Over the past few years, the experience has been fulfilling for him and he saw all the untapped potential the students have first-hand. Jen mentioned how she loves mentoring high school kids, and believes it is important to share all the possibilities available with students, because the opportunities are endless at Boeing.
Jen mentioned, “It is important to wake up each morning and be excited about going to work.” Also, John in the department of LLOC expressed, “the most important skill necessary in a job and in the workplace is the ability to write well, and communication.” Regarding diversity and inclusion, Jen emphasized, “Something I love about Boeing is the diversity of thought, and how if we all were the same it would be boring. By having different ideas, it brings different perspectives to the table.” She also explained several groups around diversity exist called Boeing Resource Groups (BRG’s). Paul and Ieisha also touched on diversity and inclusion by sharing how Boeing is willing to work with all employees to make sure their needs are met, and all necessary accommodations are provided.
After the mentoring session, students had an opportunity to touch and see airplane wings made out of carbon fiber materials. Students were astonished how light parts of the wings are in an airplane, while durability is extremely high. Everyone enjoyed passing around different parts of the wings to understand the materials used and manufactured to make parts to airplanes. This helped students process what they saw previously on the tour, and were able to examine up close materials used in the construction of airplanes.
To conclude the day, Starkloff staff led a lesson on safety in school and social life. Tips and suggestions for how to be safe on campus were provided to help alleviate safety concerns and make students feel confident as they navigate campus life independently.