Wichita Institutions Send Highly Skilled Workers to Industry

A summary of higher education opportunities in Wichita, particularly related to the aerospace industry.

Nan Bauroth
On Thursday, November 29, 2012 - 11:37

Finding the right talent for a job is often challenging, unless the company is looking in Wichita, where cutting-edge research facilities and top-notch training centers are creating a pool of highly educated, highly skilled workers.

Wichita State University, Wichita Area Technical College, Butler Community College and regional schools, including Newman University, Southwestern College, Friends University, Baker University, Cowley County Community College, Hutchinson Community College, Wichita Technical Institute and University of Kansas School of Medicine-Wichita, all provide opportunities for students to learn, train and acquire the skills necessary to pursue successful careers in the region's top industries.

Community Partnerships with WSU

Partnerships between educational institutions and business and industry are key to the region’s economic success. WSU’s strong partnerships with industry leaders, particularly in the aerospace and aviation sector, are illustrated by Learjet’s selection of the university’s National Institute for Aviation Research to do much of the material work and full-scale structural testing of the company’s newest mid-sized business jet.

Though not yet as well-known as NIAR, the university’s Advanced Networking Research Institute is helping Wichita gain a reputation as the Silicon Valley of the prairie, says WSU President John Bardo. Tech companies are calling upon students’ talents to test the latest tech innovations and help work out the bugs. Networking leader Cisco has established a training center on campus and fills positions with many program graduates, who are often recruited by other big names, including Google and Amazon.

Both NIAR and ANRI are increasingly important to the future of WSU, Bardo says.

“These research institutes help define where the university is going in terms of support for business and industry,” he says. “One of the aspects that is impressive about this university is the degree to which it does research that is of real benefit to the external community.”

WSU is also committed to meeting another need for Kansas -- dentists in rural areas, particularly in western Kansas. The university is creating a residency program that will rotate students to the communities most in need of the services. The effort is part of WSU’s expanded dental program, which includes a new facility on campus.

Wichita Area Technical College Grows Programs

To increase the number of skilled workers trained to use automation in aviation and other advanced industries, Wichita Area Technical College is teaming up with WSU and NIAR to offer a new robotics program. The goal of the program is to create a stream of qualified employees for manufacturers. WATC operates three campuses in Wichita, including the National Center for Aviation Training, on its main campus. Experiencing its fifth consecutive year of record-breaking fall enrollment, the school offers a range of programs, including robotics, machining and practical nursing, that are already at full capacity. WATC is also emerging as a national leader for technical education in health care, manufacturing, business and design.

“Our growth is a reflection of Sedgwick County’s commitment to technical education, plus industry demand for our high-tech pipeline preparing students for high-wage, high-growth careers,” says Joe Ontjes, vice president, marketing and student services. “WATC and NCAT are part of an ongoing success story for Wichita’s workforce and for local employers in search of skilled job candidates. And by partnering with employers to meet industry needs, WATC plays a critical role in regional economic development.”


A graduate of the University of Missouri School of Journalism, Nan Bauroth started her career as Director of Advertising and Promotion for Doubleday Publishing.