By Ashley Lizardo
Senior at Lindbergh High School
My family is full of engineers. I grew up listening to stories about what they were designing and problems they were solving. I wanted to know more, to understand how it all worked, and to be able to talk to them about their work. So, I took a robotics class. Not only did it give me something to talk about at the dinner table, but more importantly, it sparked a personal interest. I knew I enjoyed hands-on learning and I wondered, what other opportunities were out there?
After looking around, I found the Aerospace Advanced Manufacturing program at Lindbergh High School in Renton. I knew I might be one of a few girls to join the class, but I went for it. I feel lucky I did. Not only did I find a class I really enjoy and a teacher who supported me, I found a career path I’m passionate about.
Lindbergh uses Core Plus Aerospace, a two-year manufacturing curriculum developed for high school students like me—students who enjoy figuring out how things work and who learn by doing. The curriculum is fully hands-on, which is how I learn best, and it delivers real-world skills. It also highlights all the opportunities we have after high school to learn more and eventually work in aerospace and advanced manufacturing. In my first year of Core Plus Aerospace, I learned about materials science, precision measurement, and shop safety, which is important because we also learned how to use all sorts of tools, including power tools, and we got to work on some of the machines that are used in the industry every day.
This year, we started welding. There were a lot of flying sparks. But it turns out, I really like it. Plus, I’m good at it. I got to conquer a fear in my classes, and that’s empowering. I’ve also learned about electricity, fiber optics, and even more about robotics. There is a lot of freedom in the classroom, so I have been able to explore and expand my skills as I consider what kind of future I’d like to have.
Beyond the hands-on skills, there is so much more I have learned. We work on team projects, which means we develop better communication and leadership skills. We are accountable to one another. We work together and help each other when someone needs a hand.
Through these classes, I’ve also been able to see the many opportunities available in manufacturing and aerospace. We toured local companies and met with industry representatives, who talked with us about career options and offered advice on resume building and interview skills. Students in my program can secure good jobs right out of high school. College representatives and technical schools also come to talk about how our coursework is getting us ready for any number of in-demand certificate and degree programs.
My teacher, Mr. Nelson, encouraged me to do an internship last summer to build on my skills and get real-world manufacturing experience. I really enjoyed meeting all these new people and seeing all these different jobs in action. It opened my eyes to what I can do and the options I have. Now I want to apply with a local manufacturer as an electrician and study electrical engineering.
I hope more students, especially girls, can participate in programs like the one at Lindbergh. About a third of manufacturing workers in the United States are women. I believe that number can and should be higher.
One of the most important lessons I learned in high school is not to be afraid to try new things. You never know what you’ll enjoy or what you could be good at. I tried something new with Core Plus Aerospace and now I have options for the future. I’m ready for what’s next.