Spirit AeroSystems will lease 8,000 square feet of space in a new building weeks from opening at Wichita State University's Innovation Campus, the company and university announced Thursday.
Spirit CEO Tom Gentile said the new space— the aircraft supplier's first physical location on the WSU campus — will help with recruiting new engineers for full-time jobs as well as student internships.
"It's important for us to be around that kind of talent," he said.
Gentile said WSU engineering students will help Spirit with its new product development work and longer-term research projects. Those students will working as paid interns or as part of their course work.
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"They'll be involved in some of the collaborative research projects we're doing," he said, such as composites, tooling, prototyping and advanced structural analytics. "It's very similar to what they're doing in other parts of NIAR (WSU's National Institute for Aviation Research) today."
Spirit's new presence on the WSU campus advances "to a new level" the partnership it has had with WSU through NIAR and more recently WSU Tech, the former Wichita Area Technical College, which Gentile estimates trains about 40 percent of its new hires in production jobs such as sheet metal mechanics.
"I think it's an exciting milestone in our partnership," Gentile said.
Spirit will have between 25 and 30 people assigned to the building, though they will spend their working hours between the WSU campus and the company's south Oliver plant, Gentile said.
Spirit's office will be on the second floor of the Partnership 2 building on the Innovation Campus. Construction of that 45,000-square-foot building is wrapping up. It is expected to open for occupancy in the next few weeks.
It will take workers up to three months to finish the office space Spirit is leasing, officials said.