Here comes the money! $$ Governor Herbert just announced that a program, “Talent Ready Utah,” is going to receive $2.1 million in grants to continue building programs and work opportunities to strengthen the skills for people here in Utah. One of the areas that it will have a great impact on is the education in composites.

What is a composite? According to Wikipedia:

A material made from two or more constituent materials with significantly different physical or chemical properties that, when combined, produce a material with characteristics different from the individual components. Those components remain separate and distinct within the finished structure.

Fiber glass, carbon fiber, Kevlar....I am sure many of you have heard of these types of materials. Have you ever heard of the composite industry? This industry is really starting to make a difference with energy management and around here, our national defense with the production of lightweight aircraft.

  • What types of materials are usually made with composites? Concrete, carbon-fiber- reinforced polymer, glass-reinforced plastic, plywood

  • What are composites even used for? Buildings, bridges, shower stalls, lightweight bicycles, fishing rods, race car bodies, and even aircraft

    The materials that are being produced are continually becoming more and more useful because they are lightweight, yet extremely strong. The Boeing 787’s structure is largely composed of composite material. The concept isn’t new – even the Egyptians created temples of artificial composites using brick with straw construction.

  • Why would I share this information with today’s business leaders here in Utah? Many aren’t aware of how important composites are. We have education programs right here in Northern Utah to teach these skills. Many aren’t aware of the manufacturing companies that use composites every day in creating products that can be key to energy management and longer-lived products: Wind energy, lighter weight autos, compressed natural gas tanks, outdoor sports equipment and even many of our aircraft. Hill Air Force Base, Orbital ATK, Williams International, and Enve are just a handfull of businesses in our area that hire composite technicians.

Ogden-Weber Tech College received $189,000 last year from the Talent Ready Utah program to set up internships for high school students specifically in the

field of composites. The students coming out of the programs are working to build parts for helicopters or fighter jets made out of carbon fiber and fiber glass, and working for companies that build lightweight bicycle parts.

So when it comes to growth and opportunity in the industrial area here in Utah – we love it when Governor Gary Herbert is willing to Show Us the Money $$ with education and training!