RUAG is a Swiss-owned technology company headquartered in Bern, Switzerland. The company focuses on the aerospace and defense business, with goods and services in both the military and civilian sectors, along with the development of international growth markets.
The RUAG Space division was founded in 2009 through acquisitions of like-minded entities and RUAG international growth efforts. The organization operates internationally with production sites in Switzerland, Germany, Finland, Sweden, Austria and the United States. The rapidly growing RUAG Space division elected to create a business sector in the Titusville area to support the OneWeb satellite program.
OneWeb is a company working to put a 600- plus satellite constellation into space, currently being built out through the 2020’s. Once in place, it is intended to provide Internet broadband services anywhere in the world, much like GPS.
On the Space Coast, RUAG Space is tasked with the construction of the thermal panel structures for the assembly of OneWeb satellites. These satellites include five panels, to which the component parts of the satellite are attached. RUAG’s processes, along with the OneWeb program, have been able to produce two satellites each day out of their north Brevard production line. And if that’s not enough, RUAG and OneWeb are in the final stages of a ramp-up in their production.
RUAG chose to expand to the U.S. market due to the saturation and plateau of their previous European operations.
“With the presence of the commercial space business taking off, there are greater opportunities on the Space Coast,” says Mark Sutton.
Sutton is the Plant Manager of RUAG Titusville operations. Sutton went on to stress the plethora of opportunities to collaborate with other aerospace organizations in the area to help support their satellite programs.
ATTRACTING AND BUILDING A WORKFORCE FOR THE FUTURE
Currently, OneWeb is the only customer that RUAG is working with. Although their plates are full, they are hungry for more!
As their opportunities and offerings continue to expand, RUAG is working to bring in the brightest talents from the Florida area. RUAG is a member of the Space Coast Consortium Apprenticeship Program, which is a group of nine aerospace companies in the local area where Sutton serves as a Committee Secretary. This committee helps to implement and manage a 2-year apprenticeship program that contributes to the talent pipeline workforce.
This apprenticeship program is heavily involved with Eastern Florida State College to offer real world experience and training to students looking to enter the aerospace field. The program offers 3 apprenticeship opportunities: Mechatronics (the combination of mechanical engineering and electronics engineering), Advanced CMC Machining and Fiber Composites.
“We’re bringing a name brand company to the Space Coast in order to create growth opportunities and support the commercial space business,” said Sutton.
Currently, there are 31 apprenticeships between the companies involved in the consortium. Sutton discussed how these training programs will start this coming fall, where students will work 3 days at one of the consortium companies, 1 day in the classroom, and 1 day at the lab of their college. The goal is to give students on the job training along with their educational instruction. Upon the completion of their apprenticeship programs, students are eligible to receive an Associate Degree or a certification of their experience that is recognized worldwide.
These opportunities will continue to expand as the consortium companies look to draw students from other locations for their program. Daytona College, Orange College, Valencia College and the Florida Institute of Technology are top considerations, as these institutions have similar aerospace courses that prepare students for their futures in the industry.