Spirit AeroSystems coming to Wichita State’s Innovation Campus


Brian Hayes

Wichita State President John Bardo announces a partnership between Spirit AeroSystems and Wichita State.

Spirit AeroSystems will lease space Partnership Building 2 on Innovation Campus, officials from the aerostructures manufacturer and Wichita State announced Thursday.

Vice President for Technology Transfer John Tomblin said the partnership aligns with the university’s shift in gears to focus on applied learning and being an “economic driver.”

The building will have no classrooms, Tomblin said — only opportunities for applied learning and research.

“Applied learning — that means we want to do things differently in how we train a workforce and educate a workforce in the future,” Tomblin said.

“The economic driver that we usually talk about is how we can grow jobs and how we can grow employment,” Tomblin said.

Tomblin said the partnership with Spirit AeroSystems is comparable to WSU’s partnerships with Airbus, who is also leasing land on Innovation Campus.

“The best thing is for students to work on real-world projects,” Tomblin said. “How they work on real-world projects is, bring them into the university.”

WSU President John Bardo said the role of a university should center around integrating with the outside world.

“That’s what this is about today, is helping our community change its capacity for the future to provide better learning opportunities, to provide employment opportunities,” Bardo said.

Spirit AeroSystems CEO Tom Gentile said the new building will employ around 30 people from Spirit AeroSystems and “support 200 students.”

Gentile said Spirit’s Innovation Campus location will be where work is done on graphic prototyping, artificial intelligence, virtual reality, and additive manufacturing.

“These are things that we will be able to incubate here and take to our factory floor across town over on Oliver Street and put into production,” Gentile said.

Partnership Building 2, located just north of the Experiential Engineering building, is expected to be complete within 90 days.