Eleven miles east of Portland International Airport is one of the largest manufacturing facilities of its kind and in the world: Boeing Portland. Its 1,700-member workforce includes precision metal workers, machinists, technicians and engineers who produce 400 types of components for commercial aircraft. To keep the plant running smoothly and to make sure it fills its orders on time, it needs supply chain specialists who can source materials from all over the world.
Where does Boeing find them? Portland State University, whose undergraduate and graduate programs in the School of Business Administration (SBA) supply chain management produces the kinds of employees the company needs.
Boeing has sponsored a paid summer internship program for college business students in the Northwest for the past 15 years. Since then, the company has hired 21 interns from PSU and the majority of them are now Boeing employees at the Portland plant or at facilities in Washington state. Summer 2012 will be the biggest year ever for the program involving 13 PSU students.
“What I see in PSU is a high quality university – particularly in business and engineering – with diverse students who have good work ethics and skills. They can hit the ground running,” said Don Hendrickson, senior manager of finance for Boeing Portland, and the company’s liaison with PSU and other universities.
Hendrickson has been involved with PSU since the start of the internship program. He has mentored students, lectured in classes, participated in business projects, and serves as a board member on the SBA Business Advisory Council. He said the relationship between Boeing and PSU goes far beyond the internship program.
Boeing has given more than $500,000 to support various scholarships and programs at the University since the early 1990s. For the 2012-2013 academic year, Boeing provided two $1,000 SBA scholarships to Accounting and Supply & Logistics Management (SLM) students. Boeing has also taken the leadership role in adopting sustainability standards in the aviation industry. For the past five years, Boeing has partnered with SBA’s Center for Global leadership in Sustainability as the lead sponsor of the International Conference on Business & Sustainability, taking place this fall on November 7, 8, and 9th.
Boeing’s largest and ongoing support with the SBA has been for the Dean’s Fund for Excellence, which supports the Dean in his initiatives to advance his vision for a business school that contributes to the vitality of local and international communities. Relationships with corporate partners such as Boeing allows Portland State to continue as one of Oregon's largest employers, with an annual economic impact of $1.4 billion and more than 600 community partnerships.