Extant data was gathered on projected employment needs through research gathered from members of the Texas aerospace and computer engineering workforce. Sources of this data included the Texas Space Leadership Council, the Clear Lake Economic Development Foundation, the NASA Johnson Space Center, Boeing, Lockheed, Raytheon, and United Space Alliance contractors. Additional data was gathered on projected needs determined by growth in these areas of the aerospace industry by researching national statistics from the The National Science Foundation, the National Bureau of Labor Statistics, Texas Workforce Commission and Clear Lake area and industry projections. Gathering data from the various members of the aerospace industry gave substantial validity to the project.
Actuals were determined through interviews with the NASA/JSC Human Resources Department, the Lockheed Martin Human Resources Department, eningeers and engineering college co-ops. Actuals and optimals were assessed by facilitating groups including the Texas Space Leadership Council, the TSLC Education Subcommittee, and the TSLC Education Strategy Working Group.
Causes were discussed and summarized with the assistance of the TSLC and its Education Subcommittee and Education Strategy Working Group members. Additional data on possible causes were gained from interviews with NASA/JSC Student Programs personnel. This information was used to determine the basic proficiency and requirements for entry-level engineers. Solutions were then explored with all three TSLC facilitating groups and members of the CLEDF and NASA/HR and Lockheed HR personnel and employees. Rationales for all considered solutions were considered and analyzed by the performance technologists.
The sources of information found in Table 1 illustrates the integration of all of the sources of information, the number of sources in each particular circumstance (number of reports, meetings, or persons), and the information type as well as the tool or technique used. To obtain the engineering and technical field workforce statistics (current and projected) we were able to locate at least one source (and in many cases two or three) for each set of statistics from the local, state and national labor resources. This extant data addressed the actuals and optimals.
The Texas Space Leadership Council and its subsidiary groups (the TSLC Education Subcommittee and Education Strategy Working group) determined the optimals, causes and solutions. The TSLC Education Strategy Working Group comprised of NASA and contractor HR personnel. The TSLC Education Subcommittee included personnel from local universities and school districts as well as NASA and contractors. The TSLC Executive Committee was composed of the executive directors of NASA, Boeing, USA, Lockheed Martin and Raytheon made formal policy decisions based on the recommendations of the subcommittee and working group.
Interviews with individuals from the Clear Lake Economic Develoment Foundation and NASA's Human Resources division addressed both actuals and possible solutions. Interviews with NASA/HR student programs personnel and NASA college co-op students gave us subject matter analysis information regarding the types of engineers and skills needed for recruitment purposes. Solution rationales were based on extant data from a variety of sources as yet to be determined.
The tasks outlined in Table 2 are in chronological order. The TSLC concurrently implemented an Education Strategy Working Group which included members of the NASA HR team who worked with the performance technologists on this case. The TSLC and its Education Subcommittee received data from the Strategy Working Group and contributed to all solution discussions. They are the recipients of this needs assessment study.
The interviews were designed, developed, and piloted before being administered to the participants in the needs assessment. All team members participated in the researching of actuals and optimals from a variety of labor related sources including the Texas Workforce Commission, the National Bureau of Labor, the National Science Foundation , the Clear Lake Economic Development Foundation, NASA and its contractors. Subject matter experts from NASA's HR division were contacted for context and task analysis. All team members participated in researching and analyzing rationales for the solutions, and in compiling and presenting the final needs assessment.
This needs assessment had several constraints based on the following items: proprietary data aquisition, political issues and time. The data needed for current employment statistics while available in general from state and local government sources (including NASA) was considered proprietary for contractors: Lockheed Martin, Boeing, United Space Alliance and Raytheon. While we were able to access current hiring information and employment opportunities from 'the outside', we were limited in terms of what we could verify as truth. We also explored the connection from universities like Texas A&M and San Jacinto Community College that have programs (aerospace engineering degrees) that feed into this system.
Another issue that was a constraint to this needs assessment was the
political agenda behind this education initiative. While we encouraged
a more global view of the problem (insufficient workforce and subsequent
production setbacks) it became clear that the TSLC had several additional
agendas. One involved allocation of education funds which have already
been designated (versus more competitive salaries). Another included
a predetermined trend towards instituting certain programs or possible
solutions (scholarships, etc.). We were able to assess and recommend
the best of these that emerged from the group discussions. A third
involved the leading decision makers in this process including the chief
executive officers of each of these companies (NASA, contractors).
while very committed to the process also have specific allegiances and political agendas that they were beholden to that certainly affected the outcome of this and other advisements.
Lastly is the issue of time, which was the most major constraint. Not only was this group under time constraints because of the limitations of this course's timeframe, but also the subcommittees of the TSLC which were pursuing this perceived need were also on a very tight schedule. Decisions regarding the expansion of the Texas Aerospace Scholars Program (TASP) needed to be made in the next few months. The education strategy for all of the participants' education and public outreach divisions in the TSLC (TASP's parent agency) was developed in an even shorter timeframe. This strategy was challenging to coordinate all of the individual entities' educational efforts (NASA and the contractors) as well as provide a guiding focus for the entire Texas Aerospace Scholars Program. While TASP is currently a statewide high school initiative, it will become an umbrella organization for all future education efforts made by the TSLC, including outreach to teachers and students of all ages, in an effort to meet the needs assessed by this group's final report.
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