Ohio is driving innovation in the aviation and aerospace industry

The U.S. aviation and aerospace industry is fairly robust these days, with demand driving growth in both the civil and military sides. New hybrid electric propulsion and full electric concepts are energizing the industry, drawing considerable R&D investment to chase these innovations.

Providing an important link between the products in the air and the ideas yet to take flight is Ohio.

“Ohio is the No. 1 supplier state to Airbus and Boeing,” says Glenn Richardson, managing director of advanced manufacturing and aerospace & aviation at JobsOhio. “In 2017, Boeing purchased $12 billion in services from Ohio, while Airbus spent in the $5 billion to $6 billion range. That puts Ohio well ahead of the other 50 states in terms of what it supplies in the industry. Some 600 Ohio aerospace companies are suppliers to industry giants such as GE Aviation, Parker Hannifin, United Technologies and others.”

Smart Business spoke with Richardson about Ohio’s position in the aviation and aerospace industry, and the assets it has to offer companies in this space.

What makes Ohio a good place for aviation and aerospace companies to do business?

Ohio has a leading-edge innovation ecosystem that is critical to aerospace companies, and its 200 universities and college campuses are training engineers and contributing to vital aerospace research.

The nearly 600 companies that do business in Ohio are already taking advantage of that innovation ecosystem to drive technology to their products. For example, the NASA Glenn Research Center in Cleveland has a focus on advanced propulsion and is helping the industry move toward hybrid and solar electric. The Air Force Research Laboratory at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton is driving leading-edge technology in hypersonics, advanced manufacturing and communications. And Battelle, which manages six national laboratories, brings an engineering and technology focus to the industry from its headquarters in Columbus.

How is Ohio positioned to meet the workforce needs of the industry?

In aerospace, engineering is critical. Ohio graduates almost 12,000 engineers and technologists annually, of which Ohio absorbs about 50 percent of that talent.

With the third-largest manufacturing workforce in the nation, the state also has a good deal of tech-level talent, a segment of the workforce that typically doesn’t relocate to another state as readily as those in professional positions.

The U.S. is nearing full employment, so being able to connect with the different pools of talent that are equipped to work in the aerospace and aviation industry, and manufacturing in general, is important. Whether it’s college graduates, adults looking to change positions or military veterans, the state has a malleable workforce capable of supporting the industry.

Additionally, the state supports worker training services that help prepare and funnel Ohio’s talented workforce into companies that have significant labor demand at both the professional and tech levels. JobsOhio also has turnkey solutions to source, prescreen and train candidates who are ready to hit the ground running.

How is Ohio positioned to contribute to the unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) market?

The Ohio UAS Center in Springfield, Ohio, has worked closely with the Air Force Research Labs to develop technology to support the operation of drones beyond the visual line of sight. That facility is attracting leading-edge drone companies to Ohio to develop products and demonstrate their products’ capabilities, which is critical to the growth of the industry. It’s also helping to launch technology that supports the needs of the U.S. Department of Defense.

With Columbus earning the designation by the U.S. Department of Transportation as the country’s first Smart City, there’s a sense of responsibility to demonstrate advanced mobility concepts, such as autonomous vehicles, that other cities can model. To that end, The Ohio State University has received federal funding to look into how the UAV industry can integrate with ground mobility concepts to optimize systems that can improve traffic patterns, better acquire and utilize advanced data, and support emergency response efforts.

Insights Economic Development is brought to you by JobsOhio