The Aerospace Industry Soars in Oklahoma, Yet Talent Sourcing Lags Behind
In the vast landscape of Oklahoma's industries, the aerospace sector has emerged as a titan in recent years, securing its place as the state's second-largest industry. However, as the industry continues to thrive, a significant challenge looms large – the shortage of skilled talent.
In this article, we dive into a groundbreaking solution: harnessing the potential of RUSO (Regional University System of Oklahoma) schools as well as small Oklahoma State Regent Schools. These institutions have the power to redefine the landscape of the aerospace industry by addressing the talent gap head-on. Join us in uncovering the transformative impact of RUSO and small Regent schools and their potential to revolutionize aerospace education and employment.
Exploring RUSO Schools and Small Regent Schools and Their Significance in Oklahoma's Aerospace Sphere
Regional University System of Okl ahoma (RUSO) schools, comprising six institutions across the state, represent an underexplored treasure trove of talent. The RUSO-affiliated schools in the state that offer aerospace programs have become a breeding ground for industry-relevant skills and expertise. Three of the six RUSO schools carve a pathway for students to study and enter the aerospace landscape, and DRG is heavily involved in backing one of the three: Southwestern
In the same way, smaller Regent universities like both SWOSU and Rose State College have produced reliable pools of qualified candidates for both DRG and the Oklahoma aerospace industry at large in recent years. DRG chooses to invest mainly in smaller schools over large state institutions because it has been proven that the number of graduates who choose to stay and work in the state after earning their degrees is significantly higher than those who attend large state institutions. According to the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education (OSRHE), nearly 90% of graduates from Rose State and SWOSU are employed in Oklahoma after graduating, compared to the state average of 81%.
Unveiling the RUSO and Small Regent University Impact: Navigating the Terrain of Federal Aid
Intriguingly, RUSO universities and small Regent schools have made significant strides over the past few decades with little to no state funding for workforce development within the aerospace and defense industry, which showcases their ingenuity, resourcefulness, and dedication.
Beginning this year, a few select Oklahoma State Regent schools will be presented with generous resources from the state. SWOSU was able to capture a fraction of the funds ($500,000.00), which is projected to amplify their aerospace program potential to new heights and usher in an era of unprecedented aerospace advancement at Southwestern.
Quantifying Success: Numbers that Speak Volumes
Universities like SWOSU and Rose State are very capable to respond quickly to the aerospace workforce demand. The need for qualified aerospace graduates has increased dramatically over the past 10 years. Most of these graduates need to come from Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) programs at a university. A recent report from OSRHE shows that the percent increase of STEM graduates in the past 10 years for all Oklahoma institutions is 24%, which is great but too small of an increase to meet the demand. However, SWOSU and Rose State are outliers. In the past 10 years, SWOSU and Rose State have increased their STEM degree graduates by 143% and 175%, respectively. No other university in Oklahoma comes close to those increases.
DRG: A Catalyst for Change in Aerospace Education and Employment
More times than not, DRG can be found leading the charge on promoting RUSO schools and small Regent schools for their aerospace initiatives in Oklahoma. Our company's unwavering belief in the potential of these schools is evidenced by our commitment to sourcing talent locally. Two of the top executives of DRG, brothers Philip and Brian Busey, are both graduates of SWOSU.
Delaware Resource Group (DRG) is primarily invested in two key Regent universities - Southwestern Oklahoma State University (SWOSU) and Rose State College. SWOSU has produced John Aaron and Tom Weichel, two engineers who were instrumental parts of NASA’s space program, and has key partnerships with Gen. Tom Stafford and other titans of the aerospace and defense industry. It now has three programs that are closely tied to aerospace – Engineering Physics, Engineering Technology, and Computer Science. These students use innovative career development programs such as DRG’s internships as launching pads into
careers at major aerospace firms.
DRG has hosted summer interns from SWOSU at corporate for the last 3 years. Several of those interns have gone on to work in the industry. One intern from 2022 is now employed at Boeing. Graduates of SWOSU and Rose State are employed at most major aerospace and defense employers in Oklahoma. Not only at companies like Boeing, Kratos, Northrop Grumman, NORDAM and Orizon Aerostructures, a large number of alumni currently work for the FAA and
Bridging the Skies and Schools for a Transformed Aerospace Landscape
Oklahoma's aerospace industry is at a crossroads – on one side, a flourishing industry, and on the other, a talent gap threatening its growth. RUSO schools and small Regent schools stand as the bridge that can close this divide. From their impactful history to their untapped potential, these institutions offer a solution that defies convention. As we continue to invest in these universities’ success, we embrace the transformative power of education, collaboration, and localized talent to secure a soaring future for Oklahoma's aerospace industry.