Formal Bond with Boeing to Boost Talent Pipeline

A new partnership with Boeing aims to bolster the School’s academic programs and improve the company’s talent pipeline.

The partnership comes with a philanthropic gift and establishes the School’s first “focal,” a company leader who will serve as a formal conduit between Boeing’s Environment, Health and Safety (EHS) team and the Department of Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences.



“This partnership enhances the value we each contribute to our mission and serves to support healthy communities and workplaces locally, nationally and globally,” Chair Michael Yost said.

Across the UW, there are 61 other Boeing focals responsible for building relationships with academic units.

“The focal will strengthen the relationship between Boeing and our department,” Yost said. “The focal will also strengthen the relationship between our alumni who work at Boeing and our students.”

Students have gained real-world experience through internships at the company. After graduation, many have gone on to work in Boeing’s major production facilities in Renton and Everett.

Yost sees Boeing as a strategic partner in identifying the critical skills students need to increase their competitive advantage for jobs at the company.

“We want to help enhance the curriculum with business needs in mind,” said Susan Colligan, manager of Boeing’s EHS team and the School’s focal. Internships help with job readiness, Colligan explained, and Boeing is eager to improve the network between student interns and internship opportunities.

Colligan received a master’s in industrial hygiene and safety from the department in 1986. She has worked at Boeing for 10 years and is one of more than 25 alumni currently on the EHS team.

Some students in the department are required to complete an internship to graduate, including all undergraduates in environmental health and graduate students in the 15-month accelerated degree programs for occupational and environmental exposure sciences and applied toxicology.

“A key component of our accelerated degree programs is to have the students work in the real world to gain the practical experience they need,” Yost said. “We value this experience as part of student training.”

A formal presentation of the gift will be made to Yost during the American Industrial Hygiene Conference and Exposition in June. The gift will create the Boeing Environmental Health Excellence Fund and support students through internships and other career development opportunities.