Oklahoma’s aerospace and defense industry is the second-largest and fastest-growing industry in the state. As a result of this exponential growth, the industry’s biggest challenge is recruiting and providing talent to support the workforce demand.
DRG has taken several proactive steps to help higher education within Oklahoma expand resources, increase industry knowledge, and recruit talent to keep the aerospace and defense industry growing.
DRG currently supports efforts with the University of Oklahoma’s aerospace and defense MBA program. Leadership from DRG, including our founder and CEO, hosts a cohort of students every semester at DRG corporate office to hear about industry trends and advances from our leadership. DRG then takes that same cohort to Weatherford every semester to tour the Thomas P. Stafford Air and Space Museum and visit the campus of Southwestern Oklahoma State University (SWOSU) to hear about their Aerospace and Defense Workforce Development Program.
DRG supports SWOSU in several different ways. One is as a founding sponsor and contributor to their Aerospace and Defense Workforce Development Program. DRG leadership assisted SWOSU in the creation of the program that launched in early 2022 alongside the dedication of the Lt. General Thomas P. Stafford Archives. The program has put SWOSU at the forefront among Oklahoma universities as a leader within the aerospace and defense industry.
In less than a year of launching, the university has successfully expanded its partnerships with aerospace and defense companies and Federal Agencies. This has helped SWOSU continue to showcase the university’s offerings and support to industry within Oklahoma. DRG leadership believes the Oklahoma aerospace and defense industry thrives when universities are supplying local talent to the industry.
“SWOSU sought to tell anew the exciting story of our graduates who work in aerospace and defense—our philanthropic collaboration with longtime benefactors DRG has made possible the effective sharing of our rich heritage, engaged present, and bright future in this critical occupational area,” said SWOSU President Diana R. Lovell. “We are grateful to DRG and eager to build on this partnership’s success as we work together to align SWOSU’s programs to the workforce needs of Oklahoma!”
The program helps the university share its rich history supporting the industry that went largely unnoticed until DRG teamed with SWOSU leadership to help highlight the program’s growth and increased potential.
A Full-Circle Journey from SWOSU to DRG
As a family-owned business, Brian Busey (SWOSU Class of 2005) and Philip Busey Jr. (SWOSU Class of 2004) work together with their father, Phil G. Busey, to lead DRG.
Philip Busey Jr. credits the education he received at SWOSU for preparing him to help lead DRG.
“SWOSU is a great university because it’s a smaller school with a low student-to-professor ratio compared to other schools in the region,” said Philip Busey Jr. “The high learning engagement between students and faculty is one of the reasons it produces so many talented individuals.”
“SWOSU thrives because of the tremendous community support from Weatherford,” Busey added. “Weatherford leadership understands the economic potential the university has for Oklahoma and makes continued investments and partnerships for the school; not many universities are so lucky.”
With all of the positive factors working in the university’s favor and the success of the SWOSU Aerospace and Defense Workforce Development program, SWOSU is proving its capabilities within our industry.
By having SWOSU continue to tell its story and capitalize on its success, universities like SWOSU are proving they can be a partner to businesses like DRG and provide us with future talent and resources. With SWOSU succeeding, DRG does not have to reach out of state for the talent, it is developed locally.
A Look At Some of SWOSU’s Distinguished Graduates
SWOSU has distinguished alumni in just about every significant US military or aerospace event of the last century. Some of those alumni include Lt. Col. Harry C. McCool, USAF, SWOSU Class of 1940, who took part in the famed World War II Doolittle Raid. Lt. Col McCool received the Distinguished Flying Cross for his achievements during that historic and daring raid.
Col. Herbert Fix, SWOSU Class of 1956, is a Harmon Aviation Trophy recipient from the USMC for commanding and leading the evacuations of Saigon and Phnom Penh at the end of the Vietnam War.
Several SWOSU graduates were leaders in NASA’s famed Apollo program for sending men to the moon. SWOSU Class of 1964 included the “Steely-eyed Missile Man” of Apollo 12 and 13 John Aaron and the well-known Mr. Tom Weichel who received the Presidential Medal of Freedom for his contributions to finding the solution that brought the astronauts of the catastrophically crippled Apollo 13 safely home.
Famed SWOSU benefactor, astronaut, and Weatherford Native, Lt. General Thomas P. Stafford received an Honorary Doctorate in 2015 for his contributions to the university. Not only is Stafford a famed Gemini and Apollo astronaut and one of 24 people to fly around the moon, but he also holds the record for the fastest person in the world which was achieved upon Apollo 10’s re-entry into the Earth’s atmosphere. SWOSU houses the Stafford Archives within the Al Harris Library on campus. His Stafford Scholars program has allowed hundreds of students to receive an education at SWOSU. He is still instrumental in various campus activities at SWOSU today.
DRG supports programs at SWOSU that allow the university to highlight the past accomplishments of graduates and promote the achievements of students and alumni today.
SWOSU has alumni at most major government agencies or businesses supporting aerospace and defense. Recent graduates have been hired at Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, Bell, and General Dynamics. You can find SWOSU alumni working at major Federal Agencies such as the FAA, NASA, USAF, US Space Force, CIA, and many others. Within the last two years, DRG has hosted 4 interns from SWOSU at the corporate headquarters.
SWOSU Aerospace and Defense Workforce Development Program ensures that more alumni will be significant contributors to Oklahoma’s growing aerospace and defense industry.
“SWOSU is proving they continue to produce some of the best and brightest,” said Philip Busey Jr. “I have no doubt that SWOSU will continue its ascent as a premier university for the aerospace and defense industry.
“They have shown how they continue to adapt as a university to support aerospace and defense,” said Busey Jr. “I don’t know of many universities who have the ability to move as fast as SWOSU when it comes to corporate partnerships and industry engagement.”
For more information on SWOSU’s Aerospace and Defense Workforce Development Program, visit their website and follow the program on Facebook and LinkedIn. If you would like more information on how to become involved in SWOSU’s industry success, contact the program here. Check out this LinkedIn post to see why DRG values investing in various educational programs.