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1st 47 Puerto Rican high schoolers graduate from NAF Academies of Engineering

NAF, a national education nonprofit, in partnership with Raytheon Technologies, the parent company of Pratt & Whitney in Aguadilla and Collins Aerospace in Santa Isabel, celebrated the first graduating class of high school students from NAF Academies of Engineering in Puerto Rico. 

The event recognized the 47 students from Benito Cerezo schools in Aguadilla and Elvira Colón in Santa Isabel and was attended by Gregory J. Hayes, CEO of Raytheon Technologies; Lisa Dughi, CEO of NAF; officials from Puerto Rico’s Education Department and Economic Development and Commerce Department, as well as local business professionals.

“At Raytheon Technologies, we recognize the importance of supporting local communities and that we have a vibrant and growing connection,” Hayes said.

“Our mission is to create a safer and more connected world, and we can only achieve this if we have the right people working with us. I want to thank NAF, Pratt & Whitney and Collins Aerospace’s leadership, as well as the Department of Education for making this graduation a reality,” he said.

The event celebrated and recognized the successes of the students who have been part of the NAF Engineering Academies in Puerto Rico that were founded in early 2020 with the support of Raytheon Technologies. The partnership supports career-readiness academies in the United States that help provide equitable access to curriculum, hands-on learning and connections with business professionals, specifically in the engineering and technology industries.

“The graduation of the first cohort of students from the NAF Academies of Engineering in Aguadilla and Santa Isabel is a testament to the success of an impactful private and public partnership between NAF and Raytheon Technologies,” Dughi said. “In a community that has endured many challenges due to natural disasters and the resulting disruptions, NAF offers Puerto Rico’s students an opportunity to engage in their education with an eye to their futures.”

The nonprofit’s CEO added: “We know that NAF is where opportunity begins, and we are proud of the students’ achievements and future aspirations in STEM. We know that no matter their career paths, they are equipped with the future-ready skills to be successful.”

NAF explained that it provides students with career-focused curricula, work-based learning experiences such as job shadowing and mock interviews, including internship opportunities and connections to industry professionals, ensuring high school students are prepared for college, career and future success.

In addition, students participate in robotics competitions through First Robotics, where they can be creative, push the boundaries of their knowledge, apply what they have learned from academia to real-world scenarios and help define a career path for their future.

“It’s extremely exciting to be celebrating our fourth anniversary of collaboration with NAF. These initiatives focused on the readiness and future of our students are catalysts to support and inspire talent to develop careers in STEM fields,” said Josy Acosta, CEO of Pratt & Whitney Puerto Rico.

“As a company, we’re committed to investing in students and giving back to the community, but we also need to continue to hire top talent,” she said.

“It’s a real cause for celebration to achieve real opportunities for our next generation of engineers through our collective effort. Benito Cerezo is my alma mater, and I am personally proud of the great triumph of having achieved a transformational learning program based and focused on our island,” Acosta said.

The partnership between NAF and Raytheon has created a supportive ecosystem to inspire students to pursue careers in the STEM field and beyond. The entities said they will continue to provide access to opportunities and support for future generations of aspiring engineers in other communities this year, with new Raytheon-backed NAF Engineering Academies in Compton, Calif. and Washington, D.C.

“The NAF academy is important to Collins Aerospace because it provides the opportunity for our youth to have hands-on experience in STEM areas,” said Javier Ignacio Ramis-Rivero, site director for Puerto Rico Enterprise Operations at Collins Aerospace.

“This allows them to explore their passion for these specializations and prepare for future careers in the field, which benefits the company by attracting young and fresh talent eager to contribute and learn at the same time,” he said. “In addition, Collins Aerospace has a social responsibility to support the education and professional development of young people, and NAF is an excellent way to do this.”

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This story was written by our staff based on a press release.

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