HAMPTON, Va. – A quarter of today's U.S. aerospace workers are eligible to retire in 2008. The Aerospace Industries Association has deemed this potential skills drain -- in an area that is the largest contributor to the positive balance of trade in the manufacturing sector -- one of the nation's top ten priorities.
NASA leaders from the Langley Research Center in Hampton and Wallops Flight Facility on the Eastern Shore will join with aerospace industry representatives and members of professional organizations statewide at AeroSpace Day, Wednesday, Jan. 30, in Richmond. These aerospace advocates will meet with General Assembly members to discuss this critical issue and the vital role aerospace plays in Virginia.
There are over 300 aerospace companies in Virginia that, in 2006, employed over 24,000 people. NASA facilities in Virginia generated $1.2 billion in revenue and 12,000 jobs in the Commonwealth. Ensuring an educated and highly skilled workforce for Virginia and for the nation is a critical topic on the AeroSpace Day 2008 agenda.
A news conference featuring NASA Langley Center Director Lesa Roe, Virginia Space Grant Consortium Director Mary Sandy and General Assembly members will be held at 10:30 a.m. at the General Assembly, 5 East Conference Room, 9th and Broad Streets, Richmond.
In addition, Astronaut Andy Thomas, mission specialist on three Shuttle flights and flight engineer who spent over four months onboard the Mir space station, will be on hand to discuss NASA's long-term exploration goals. At 9:45 a.m., he will accompany students from John B. Cary Elementary School for a meeting with Senator Aston D. McEachin, D-VA-9. The students will speak with their district senator about their experiences and enrichment opportunities as a result of being named a NASA Explorer School.
Throughout the morning, Langley's educational experts will demonstrate NASA's digital learning network, an electronic education capability that links students and teachers with NASA experts across the nation. At 10:15 a.m., Senator Yvonne Miller, D-VA-5, will participate in a live interactive videoconference with NASA's Explorer School students in Norfolk. These demos will illustrate the value of technology to teachers, parents, students and Virginians of every age.
Finally, reporters are invited to attend the legislative session at noon where Virginia’s aerospace community will be recognized.
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