Spirit AeroSystems has decided to invest in itself by investing in university students.
The company on Wednesday announced plans to give 18 new $32,000 scholarships to engineering and business students attending Wichita State University, Kansas State University and the University of Kansas, starting this coming spring semester, said Larry Lawson, Spirit’s CEO.
Twelve of those scholarships for $8,000 a year will go to freshmen enrolling next spring at Wichita State. The money allotted for the entire program: more than $570,000.
Spirit hired 190 engineering graduates in the past year, Lawson said. “We’re proud and happy with the graduates we get from the universities in Kansas,” he said.
“We have to hire a lot of engineers just to replace our retirees. We have a vested interest as a global business to do what we can to help.”
The leaders of all three schools attended the announcement at the Rhatigan Student Center at Wichita State on Wednesday morning. Lawson said Spirit likes all three schools but that because of WSU’s proximity, “our relationship is a little tighter.” That factored into the decision to fund two-thirds of the 18 scholarships at WSU.
“We have such a good relationship with Spirit,” said Wichita State president John Bardo. “We’ve got a lot to offer with our business and engineering schools and with John Tomblin and NIAR (the National Institute for Aviation Research). This will help.”
Spirit will award the scholarships and expects the students to maintain their grades and maintain a relationship with Spirit for the four years covered by the scholarships, Lawson said. The students will get an interview for an internship after completion of their sophomore year, Spirit officials said.
After four years, or perhaps sooner if all goes well, Spirit will evaluate whether to award another group of 18 or more students another round of scholarships, said Spirit spokesman Jarrod Bartlett.