Sen. Cantwell visits Olympic College to promote Air Washington grant

Bremerton Patriot - Kate Whittle

U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-WA) toured Olympic College April 13 to promote a new aerospace training program supported by a $20 million Department of Labor grant.

At a roundtable discussion on the OC campus, Cantwell said the aerospace engineering field is high in job openings and short on trained employees.

The senator, who chairs the senate aviation committee, said, "Olympic [College] is very capable of helping us meet demand."

The OC aerospace program focuses on composites, the design and manufacture of combined materials, like those used in Boeing aircraft. The OC share of the grant, $2.2 million, will allow another 40 slots for students in the field.

One OC student, Ron Selvidge, is seeking a certificate in composites after being laid off from a research-based engineering job.

"When companies get afraid of keeping the lights on, research is first to go," he said.

Selvidge hopes the training will help him get a job.

"Most folks in this class are looking for a re-tooling that can open up new doors for them," he said.

Selvidge is designing a cooler with a special compartment system to keep ice from melting when it's opened. He met the senator while she was touring classrooms, and showed her the cooler prototype.

"Very innovative," Cantwell told him.