U.S. First Lady Jill Biden and Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona visited Beta Technologies in Vermont last week to see how the electric aviation company is prioritizing educational opportunities and workforce development to create jobs in the clean-energy industry.
The visit was part of the Biden-Harris administration’s Investing in America Tour, which kicked off on March 28 in an effort to demonstrate how the administration’s agenda has made a positive impact on clean energy, “green” technologies, and job creation. Joining Cardona and Biden on the trip was Vermont Gov. Phil Scott.
Beta Technologies is developing two types of electric aircraft: a small, conventional airplane known as the CX300 and an eVTOL aircraft with a similar build but with additional vertical-takeoff-and-landing capabilities. Beta is also developing and building a network of electric aircraft charging stations at airports across the U.S.
A Beta spokesperson told FutureFlight that workforce development “has been a huge priority” for the company as it is switching gears from research and development efforts to full-scale manufacturing and assembly of its aircraft and charging stations. Beta is building a manufacturing facility in South Burlington, Vermont.
“Electrifying aviation is just one of many challenging but critical problems we have to solve to set ourselves up for a better future, and it will take a lot of smart, passionate people to get there,” said Beta founder and CEO Kyle Clark. “We believe that it starts by engaging students early to spark their interest and expose them to the wide range of paths they can pursue to help shape that collective future. Beta is committed to developing the next generation of skilled professionals and growing opportunities for high-paying, green jobs.”
During the visit to Beta’s headquarters, Biden and Secretary Cardona spoke with two Beta interns, one in high school and one in college, about how their experience at the company has shaped their career trajectories. The college student, Colton Poulin, is a mechanical engineering major at Vermont Technical College and has been working with Beta since 2021. He has been involved in the development and testing of flight inceptors, or sidestick controls. The high schooler, Phoebe Peckham, joined Beta earlier this year and has been tasked with creating “study hall” learning demos to help other students understand the engineering principles behind Beta’s products.
According to Beta, the company hired more than 80 college and high school student interns last summer, and 25 of its interns have become full-time employees since 2021. At least 60 interns, aged 17 to 24, have already been hired to work at Beta this summer. The company’s interns have the opportunity to work with any of Beta’s departments, including battery and motor development, 3-D printing, supply-chain management, charging infrastructure, and flight testing.
In addition to its internship programs, Beta is doing community outreach on a local level. The company hosts a STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) program for K-12 students across Vermont in which participants can get hands-on flight simulator experience and learn more about the business through the interactive “study hall” demos. As part of this program, Beta has brought its “mobile experience” to five schools over the past year and invited another 40 schools to come to its facilities for an on-site learning experience. According to Beta, more than 2,000 students from 11 of the 14 counties in Vermont have participated in this program.
The company has also launched a workforce development training program in partnership with CV-TEC, a technical school in Plattsburgh, New York. CV-TEC students now have the opportunity to receive professional certification as aerospace coatings applicator specialists by taking a 16-week course taught by Beta employees.
Beta says it has created more than 450 “good, clean-tech jobs” across its facilities, which in addition to Vermont are in New York, Ohio, and Washington, D.C., as well as in its newest research and development facility in Montréal. The company expects to hire hundreds more workers in the coming years as it completes the construction of its manufacturing facility in South Burlington. Beta is also renovating a battery validation facility in St. Albans, Vermont. Both of these facilities are expected to open this summer.