Baseball legend Reggie Jackson was in Wichita on Friday to tour the National Center for Aviation Training and to meet with students and representatives of the city’s aircraft companies.
Jackson’s Mr. October Foundation for Kids seeks to boost the number of minority students in science, technology, engineering and math-related jobs, called the STEM professions.
He was invited to Wichita by Kansas Commerce Secretary Pat George, who sits on the foundation board.
George and a host of officials from state government and the local aircraft companies met with Jackson.
Jackson said that he was persuaded to come to Wichita because 34 percent of Wichita Area Technical College’s students are minorities.
Jackson said he was impressed with his tour of NCAT.
“It’s unparalleled,” he said. “It’s fabulous.”
NCAT is a model for other institutions, he said.
Nationwide, there are far fewer minority students in STEM jobs than in the population as a whole, he said. Encouraging more minority students to take STEM education is crucial, he said.
“The world is moving toward technology, and if you aren’t moving with it, you’re going to get left behind.” he said.
Jackson said he sponsors 65 minority and at-risk students at the Georgia Institution of Technology, as well as programs at other schools.
George said that Friday’s tour was Jackson’s introduction to Wichita but that he expects his foundation’s involvement to grow.