COMPTON, CA –– NAF, a national education nonprofit that transforms the high school experience and RTX, the world’s largest aerospace and defense company – in collaboration with CUSD announced the opening of three new NAF Academies of Engineering with a special ribbon-cutting ceremony yesterday at Centennial High School.
At the three NAF Academies located at Centennial High School, Dominguez High School, and Compton High School, nearly 200 students will participate in career-focused curricula in computer science, aerospace, and general engineering during the 2023-2024 school year.
“This partnership between RTX, NAF and Compton Unified School District (CUSD) will impact students for generations,” said NAF CEO, Lisa Dughi. “When school districts and employers work together to bring real-world opportunities to students of all backgrounds and capabilities, the results can truly be transformative. For over forty-plus years, we’ve helped to forge connections between school districts and local businesses, and acted as a catalyst to create curriculum and experiences that enable students to identify future jobs within their communities, map the plan for success by mastering skills they need to reach those careers, and develop a network with professionals.”
CUSD Superintendent Dr. Darin Brawley explained this partnership is an investment in the students. “Together we’re forging a path for our students’ success for 21st century learning, and a multitude of opportunities in engineering and STEM professions,” he said. “The NAF Engineering Academies at Centennial, Compton, and Dominguez are more than a program, they are a gateway to a world of possibilities.”
There will be a tremendous demand for new engineers in America over the next few years. As reported by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, roughly 90,000 new engineering jobs will be needed by 2031, with a focus on infrastructure development, renewable energy, oil and gas extraction, and robotics.
Annabel Flores, RTX Deputy President of Land and Air Defense Systems, discussed the need for these skills in the workforce. “We have 185,000 employees across the world and 60,000 of those are engineers,” she said. “They are solving some of the world’s toughest problems. We are looking for that future workforce who are going to help solve the problems of tomorrow because they’re going to be harder, they’re going to be different, and we’re going to need engineers and scientists with diverse backgrounds and experiences to help us solve them.”
Additionally, this private-public partnership between RTX, NAF, and CUSD, helps address barriers faced by students who have been historically overlooked and under-invested in, by providing high-quality STEM curriculum that is relevant to the local job market; work-based learning and internships; and mentorship opportunities from industry professionals like engineers from the El Segundo-based RTX facility. The NAF Academies also have plans to offer students Industry Based Certifications prior to graduation.
“Because of the support from NAF and RTX, our students will have access to opportunities they need to build a life of upward economic mobility and success,” said Centennial High School Principal Dr. Bobby Walker. “Today marks the beginning of an impactful journey for hundreds of high school students in our district. In the next four years, these students will develop new skills, make professional contacts, and be immersed in hands-on learning that will help them create a plan for their future and shape their career aspirations.”
CUSD students know they have a unique opportunity ahead of them. “I am proud to be one of the first students in the NAF Academy of Engineering,” said Centennial High School ninth grader Ja’mya Johnson. “It will help me to discover more about myself and my future. I look forward to learning more about career opportunities, about teamwork, and collaboration and becoming more confident as I go through my high school experience. Even more, I am excited about the speakers who will come to my class, the different companies I may have a chance to visit, and the mentors I will find and already have set my sights on meeting.”