In June, BRTC Machine Tool instructor Rick Barker attended the Mid-America Aerospace +Defense Summit in Rogers, Arkansas. This conference focused on the aerospace industry in Arkansas, Oklahoma, and other surrounding states and featured a variety of aerospace industry leaders across the United States as well as Arkansas government officials.
Industries such as Lockheed Martin, Dassault Falcon Jet, NASA, FedEx, and Aerojet Rocketdyne were highlighted during business-to-business opportunities. Participants were able to attend an industry tradeshow with aerospace and defense companies from Arkansas, Oklahoma, and other states. Currently, more than 70 Arkansas companies are in the aerospace and defense industry.
Arkansas Secretary of Commerce Mike Preston spoke about what Arkansas can do to remain leading as a transportation state and Governor Asa Hutchinson spoke about the importance of aerospace and the nation’s supply chain. Both state leaders recognized that aerospace in the number one Arkansas export.
Barker was excited to attend the conference and attended on his own time without BRTC compensation. “I’ve always heard that aerospace/aeronautics was a big business in Arkansas, and I knew rice was a big export for Arkansas, as well,” said Barker, “but I didn’t know that the number 1 export is not agricultural products but aerospace and defense. Aerospace and defense provide $1.8 billion in exports which equates to 14,000 jobs in Arkansas.” Barker also felt this was a very interesting considering Walmart employs around 11,000 Arkansans.
As a machine tool instructor, conferences like this can help faculty members identify current and future workforce skills needs and provide the resources for faculty to update classroom curriculum. Faculty also make contacts with industries needing employees with certain skills and can connect graduating students with these employers.
For more information about BRTC’s machine tool program, visit https://blackrivertech.org org or contact Mr. Barker at 870-248-4139.