High-tech, high-paying industries that boost NC's bottom line
North Carolina is becoming a hub for the aerospace, advanced manufacturing and national security-support sectors. Consider that:
- More than 180 aerospace companies have manufacturing operations in North Carolina, employing more than 9,500 people.
- Employment in aircraft engine and engine-part manufacturing increased by 68 percent in the state, compared with a 25 percent drop for the U.S. overall.
- The Carolinas' Piedmont Crescent, which arches across North Carolina and into part of South Carolina, is the nation's fourth largest manufacturing region. The 8,944 firms here employ more than 506,000 workers, who produce more than $174 billion in goods. Only three other regions in the United States – the Great Lakes, New England and California – produce more goods than the Carolinas' Piedmont Crescent.
- Three of the top 10 emerging aerospace cluster markets in the South are in North Carolina
- North Carolina has a growing defense-support economy, including industry clusters in fuel and power sources; human factors; command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (C4ISR); performance materials; vehicle support activities; and unmanned systems
Why North Carolina?
Companies are attracted by the state's longstanding manufacturing infrastructure, which includes a highly regarded workforce development program offered by the community college system. Another asset is the presence of five major military installations, which produce highly motivated veterans with skills in many technical areas, including those needed by companies that research, design and produce tools and systems used in national security.
- North Carolina is a pro-business, right-to work-state.
- The state is home to The North Carolina Global TransPark (GTP) a multi-modal transportation hub offering commercial real estate plus shipping capabilities via truck, air, sea or rail.
- North Carolina's average manufacturing worker is 10 percent more productive than the nationwide average.
- Eight North Carolina universities and numerous community colleges have programs that support and enhance the state's aviation and aerospace firms.
A win-win for students and employers
Companies in these industries–and auxiliary businesses that support them–need scientifically and technically literate employees. In some cases, they require specialized vocational training, while in others they need engineers and scientists with bachelor's degrees or higher.
Then there are young people, who need secure, well-paying jobs that will reward their interests and skills. That's where our network of affiliated STEM schools with a focus on aerospace, advanced manufacturing and security come in. These schools are dedicated to preparing hundreds of young North Carolinians for successful lives that in many cases will include careers in these industries.
At North Carolina New Schools, we are developing networks of schools in partnership with the NC Department of Public Instruction and the State Board of Education. And these networks of public schools have deep ties to the private sector and higher education.
Career opportunities in Aerospace, Advanced Manufacturing and Security
Students who love to work with their hands, build rockets and machines, enjoy robotics, plan to serve in the military for a few years, or like designing software would be a good fit for these industries. Job categories in aerospace and advantaged manufacturing include engineers, programmers, technicians, maintenance experts, production workers, aviation mechanics, fabricators, machinists, tool and die operators, human-factors experts, research and applied scientists, industrial designers, and statisticians.
In national security support services and technologies, the civilian job categories are even broader. In addition to many of the jobs listed above, they can include such disciplines as linguistics, psychology, alternative energy, performance materials and gaming/simulation.
Almost all jobs in these areas require post-secondary degrees or training, and some–such as engineers, scientists and statisticians, psychologists and linguists–require a four-year degree or higher.
Student resources for aerospace careers
- Launch into Aerospace: A helpful website on what it's like to work in the industry, sponsored by the Aerospace Industries Association.
- Engineer - Career Information: An easy-to-read but comprehensive article on the engineering disciplines, complete with education and training requirements, average salaries, where engineers work, and long and short-term prospects.
- CareerME: Sponsored by the Society of Manufacturing Engineers, this comprehensive site covers all aspects of advanced manufacturing jobs and opportunities.
- NC Military Foundation: The NC Military Foundation offers information on the types of industries and companies that receive contracts from the Department of Defense in support of national security efforts.
Opportunities and resources for companies in these industries
STEM schools devoted to aerospace, advanced manufacturing and national security need input from companies in these industries in order to design cutting-edge curricula and create engaging and relevant learning opportunities.
In addition to serving on one of the Industry Innovation Councils , company executives can contribute to the success of STEM schools by offering student internships and teacher externships; providing job shadowing opportunities; and contributing real-world problems for students to tackle in class.
Considering locating in North Carolina or new to the state? Here are some helpful resources related to the aerospace, advanced manufacturing and national security industries:
- North Carolina Aerospace Alliance: The NC-AA is committed to growing jobs in the state through the manufacture and supply of products for commercial Aircraft.
- NC GTP: Information on the Global TransPark in Kinston, NC.
- NC's Eastern Region: The regional economic development organization serving the state's southeastern corner, where several STEM schools are located.
- NC Chamber: Website of the NC Chamber of Commerce, which serves as the state affiliate for the National Association of Manufacturers
- IHSS: The Institute for Homeland Security Solutions is a North Carolina consortium that conducts applied research in the social and behavioral sciences to address a wide range of homeland security challenges.
Resources and opportunities for teachers
As the best teachers know–and as the North Carolina New Schools puts into practice–students learn best when they can apply classroom knowledge. For teachers looking to inject more relevance into their science and math curricula, the aerospace, advanced manufacturing and national security support industries are great places to start.
- NASA's Simulation-Based Aerospace Engineering Teacher Professional Development Program: NASA program offered through the Research Triangle Institute, with text and video modules.
- Los Alamos National Laboratory: K-12 learning tools and professional development opportunities offered by the Los Alamos National Laboratory
- Teach Engineering: Tips and tools for using engineering processes in the classroom.
- Teachers' Domain: Instruction relating to careers in advanced manufacturing technologies
- Kenan Fellows Program: Opportunities for externships in the aerospace industry for STEM teachers in traditional schools who want to improve the relevance and rigor of their instruction.