Have you ever observed satellites glittering across the night sky? Among the 3,433 US-owned satellites actively orbiting the Earth today, several began their journeys to outer space right here in our backyard.
Aerospace engineers create, test, launch, and operate aircraft, spacecraft, satellites, and missiles. From military applications to commercial products, the demand for these specialized roles is increasing by at least 6% annually, if not more, by some estimates.
Due to the rigorous training and skills required for these positions, aerospace engineers receive highly competitive compensation. As of May 2022, 460 aerospace engineers in Kentucky brought home an average salary of $117,840.
It’s not just about the money. The Eastern Kentuckians who dream of doing big things can receive their education and start their careers locally. Morehead State University (MSU) and Rajant present an extraordinary opportunity for those who don’t wish to leave our region in search of inspiring career opportunities.
Growing EKY’s aerospace engineering workforce starts with students
MSU offers a nationally renowned Bachelor of Science degree in Space Systems Engineering. Along with essential in-classroom learning opportunities, students gain plenty of hands-on experience to set themselves up for post-graduation success.
Most students become involved with satellite design, construction, testing, and launch. Then, monitoring and controlling the satellites post-launch is achieved using a 21-meter space tracking antenna, now an affiliated node on NASA’s Deep Space Network (DSN).
Working out of the $15.6 million, 45,000 square-foot Space Science Center, students can graduate with practical experience inside a satellite control room.
With an almost 100% post-graduation placement rate, MSU graduates have gone to work for NASA’s Johnson Space Center, Rajant, and other reputable organizations.
“Rajant and Morehead State University have had an incredible relationship since Rajant CEO Robert (Bob) Schena first visited in 2014”, shared MSU’s Space Science Center Executive Director Dr. Benjamin Malphrus.
“Bob’s decision to locate a manufacturing and R&D facility in Morehead has literally made our dream of attracting a major tech company to Eastern Kentucky come true,” Dr. Malphrus added. “Since then, our partnership has grown over time to help meet the needs of Rajant’s local high-tech workforce and jointly pursue R&D in areas related to both organizations’ expertise.”
The Rajant team is currently working toward adapting Rajant InstaMesh technology to high-speed inter-spacecraft links to facilitate intelligent swarms of satellites. “Together, Rajant and MSU are working on some truly cutting-edge technology that I expect we will see in many of those satellites glittering across the sky.”
Rajant’s commitment to recruiting a local workforce
Rajant, a wireless networking development and manufacturing firm with operations in Morehead, will help ensure MSU’s Space Systems Engineering program continues thriving.
Rajant CEO Robert Schena said, “Keeping families together and building communities of prosperity for the future are at the forefront of Rajant’s local recruitment efforts.”
By offering excellent post-graduation career opportunities, MSU and Rajant are ensuring a healthy workforce pipeline for Eastern Kentuckians interested in cutting-edge careers in science and technology.
“The work ethic and talent required to produce excellent wireless networking for our worldwide customers is in our backyard,” said Schena, “and within the walls of the Morehead State University Space and Science Center.”
As a partner, Rajant is committed to successful student outcomes. They provide opportunities for students to work on joint research, participate in trainings, and apply for internships. A wide range of engineering careers are available to graduates.
According to Dr. Malphrus, Rajant also supports trade shows and career fair opportunities by co-exhibiting with the Space Science Center and by supporting a tremendous number of outreach projects, like the ASTRA-Con (Appalachian Space Technology and Research Advancement coming up in September.
“These are extraordinary opportunities for our students; and opportunities that they would not have otherwise.”
In summary, Eastern Kentucky is lucky to have a friend like Rajant.
When MSU wins, EKY wins
The benefits of a robust local university system are many.
As we all know, many of our EKY counties need help sourcing funding for critical public projects—such as deploying broadband infrastructure for all residents who want it.
When Eastern Kentucky’s top students have the opportunity to pursue their education here, we can retain more high-earners — especially those who wish to stay and raise families. Their presence helps stabilize the local tax base, contributes to population growth, and increases economic opportunities for area startups and small businesses.
The aerospace workforce pipeline starts long before first-year engineers-in-training arrive on MSU’s campus for orientation. The future of the Eastern Kentucky economy is counting on schools to launch innovative programming to prepare students for real-world, high-value, and sometimes even unconventional careers. STEM and entrepreneurship programs in middle and high schools help local students adopt the skills and mindset required to pursue valuable careers in engineering.
About Rajant Corporation
“As a part of our expansion plan in EKY, Rajant is committed to hiring locally and contributing to the formation of a robust workforce pipeline,” said Schena.
At the end of 2022, Rajant employed approximately 200 people across all 3 facility locations. 37 work from the Morehead location, and by 2026, Rajant expects this number to reach 50. When they complete their property build-out in the next few years, Rajant hopes to hire and retain approximately 100 employees in Eastern Kentucky.
Resources for Eastern Kentucky small businesses and entrepreneurs
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