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United Technologies Announces Multimillion-Dollar STEM Partnership with National Academy Foundation

By on March 5, 2020

UTC and NAF announcement in Aguadilla (Photo by Dennis M. Rivera Pichardo)

SAN JUAN – United Technologies Corp. and the National Academy Foundation (NAF) announced a multimillion-dollar national partnership to expand NAF Academies of Engineering to Puerto Rico. 

UTC employs more than 2,000 people in the design and manufacturing of aerospace technologies for jet engines, air management and electrical systems on the island. 

The partnership, consisting of a $3 million funding commitment over three years, aims to expand NAF’s Academies of Engineering, bringing STEM programs to under-resourced public high schools in Puerto Rico, Palm Beach County, Fla., and across the United States.  

The commitment will also extend to supporting NAF’s Academies of IT and engaging NAF alumni through its NAFTrack platform,” the announcing release explains, adding that, through its partnership with NAF, “UTC will prioritize the development of a robust pipeline of diverse technical talent.”

During a kick-off event in Aguadilla, representatives from UTC and NAF announced that two high schools, Benito Cerezo High School and Elvira Colón High School, will serve as the inaugural sites for the island’s first NAF Academies of Engineering. Both schools are close to UTC’s Pratt & Whitney and Collins Aerospace Systems facilities, “making it possible for employees to volunteer and work side-by-side with students,” the release reads.  

“UTC is incredibly proud to partner with NAF, an organization that is transforming the STEM learning environment with tangible, hands-on learning opportunities for high school students in underserved communities,” said Greg Hayes, UTC chairman and CEO. “These academies will expose generations of students in Puerto Rico to STEM classes, mentorships and company internships, bringing to life what a future career in engineering and technology can look like.”  

Through the partnership, UTC and NAF “will bring professional engineering expertise into the classroom. And, by offering a variety of work-based learning engagements such as company visits, mentoring, and paid high school internships, UTC and NAF are ensuring that these students are career ready,” the release explains.

The two new NAF locations will join a nationwide network of 600 academies offering “school within a school” career-themed programs, which UTC says reflects its “commitment to nurturing the next generation of engineers, scientists and inventors.”

“NAF aims to make a positive difference for as many students as possible,” added Sandy Weill, NAF founder and chairman. “By working with UTC, we are expanding into a previously untapped location that will greatly benefit from UTC’s investment and support NAF’s long-held belief that all students deserve access to opportunities for success. NAF can now proudly say that we are serving more than 100,000 students throughout the United States, the US Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico. We want to thank Greg Hayes and his outstanding leadership team for the wonderful work they do in the communities they serve and we look forward to a long-lasting partnership.”  

UTC has had a presence in Puerto Rico for 17 years, since Infotech Aerospace Services Inc. (IAS), the first aerospace engineering services company on the island, launched a joint venture with Pratt & Whitney.

Although UTC is one of the world’s leading building lift providers, it will be transforming into a pureplay aerospace company through its planned spin-offs of Otis and Carrier, and expected merger with Raytheon.

UTC said the partnership is part of its effort “to help address the technologies skills gap and under-representation of women and minorities in the technology sector. NAF is one of UTC’s pillar partnerships which include Girls Who Code, National Invention Convention and FIRST.”

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