Paso Robles, Cal Poly move forward on spaceport initiative
University will produce workforce development training programs to help create a hiring pipeline for students
– On Dec. 6, the Paso Robles City Council unanimously approved an agreement with Cal Poly to accelerate the City of Paso Robles’ pursuit of a spaceport license for the Paso Robles Airport.
“It is our vision that a spaceport designation and a close working relationship with Cal Poly will help advance our efforts to diversify our local economy, provide opportunities for Roblans and keep more local talent local,” says Paso Robles Mayor Steve Martin. “Paso Robles and Cal Poly are both known for pioneering, it’s an honor and a privilege to combine efforts for the benefit of future generations through the spaceport and tech corridor concepts.”
The agreement will activate Cal Poly’s Aerospace Engineering Department, along with undergraduate and graduate students from several other departments to develop the spaceport license application for submittal to the Federal Aviation Administration by Summer 2023. Cal Poly’s proposal includes working with the city on developing a proposed tech corridor and engaging with other local education institutions, such as Cuesta College, on workforce development training programs to help create a hiring pipeline for students interested in any aspect of aerospace from welding to marketing to engineering.
“Innovation and education are key economic drivers for our region, and together, Cal Poly and the City of Paso Robles can accelerate career opportunities in cutting-edge industries while providing Learn by Doing experiences through the development of the spaceport and tech corridor,” said Bill Britton, Cal Poly’s vice president for information technology services and chief information officer. “Space companies want to know there is a workforce generator nearby, and Cal Poly provides this element with interns, engineers, and operations workforce.”
Cal Poly’s interest in partnering with Paso Robles to get a spaceport designation from the FAA comes directly from their CubeSat program – they helped pioneer small satellite technology and are currently producing cubesats at the SLO campus, but they and their clients have to go to the Mojave desert or beyond to launch them. In April 2022, Cal Poly President Jeffrey Armstrong signed a Letter of Intent with Paso Robles Mayor Steve Martin marking the beginning of the partnership between the City and the University around the spaceport effort, this week’s action by City Council memorialized the partnership’s funding.
The three items in Cal Poly’s scope of work are:
- Completion and Submission of the FAA Spaceport License Application
- Developing public-private sector partnerships for technology and innovation in the space, ag-tech, and supporting industries.
- Identifying the workforce development needs for relevant industries and outlining a strategy for meeting those needs.
The city can expect Cal Poly to submit a completed FAA Spaceport License Application by Aug. 31, 2023, and to have a roadmap in place for developing tech and aerospace apprenticeships for students with industry partners by Nov. 30, 2023.
The Digital Transformation Hub at Cal Poly, also called the DxHub, will spearhead the next several phases of the project.
The presentation to the council can be viewed here (at 40 minute mark).