Ed Wells Partnership
Enhance your skills and your career
By Karen McLean
SPEEA publications editor
RENTON – On a recent Saturday morning, 37 engineers and techs attended a class on composites to
gain a better understanding of the bigger
picture at Boeing.
They were taking advantage of a contract benefit negotiated between SPEEA
and Boeing to provide ongoing training
opportunities to Profs and Techs. The
program started offering more off-hours
classes for people to learn about topics of
interest that are not core training.
“I think it’s a great combination between
the union and the company,” said Karl
Lang, a SPEEA member at the composites class. “Together, they’re offering a
venue for professional enhancements.”
Ed Wells will offer more than 500
training events this year. Based on last
year’s participation, more than 16,000
participants benefited from the training
provided by their contract.
• Professional and technical training
Why call it Ed Wells?
• On-hours and off-hours
• Online and in-person training
• Conference grants that cover
travel and registration fees
• Ed Wells-sponsored Boeing
Education Network (BEN) technical
and professional programs
• Book clubs
• Career coaching/consulting
All of this is discretionary, but a case can
be made that every learning opportu-
nity offered by Ed Wells is geared toward
enhancing employees’ careers.
Ed Wells has been called the ‘elder statesman of aviation.’ He spent 50 years at The Boeing Company working on aircraft ranging from the B- 17 to the 767. Born in 1910, he started at Boeing in 1931. By 1934, he earned his first patent for a retractable
landing gear and became project engineer on the 299, the airplane that became known as the B- 17
Throughout his career, he emphasized training and lifelong learning. He spoke four languages, which
he said he used to help with Boeing’s growing global market.
Wells rose to the ranks of senior vice president and served on the Boeing Board of Directors. In an
article written after he died in 1986, he was called the ultimate engineer.
He’s even credited with encouraging Boeing engineers to form their own union, which became SPEEA.
When SPEEA first negotiated the contract benefit in 1995 for training, it was called the Institute for
Technical Excellence and Application. In a letter to Council Reps in 1997, SPEEA and Boeing jointly
announced the name change to Ed Wells Initiative.
In the letter, it explained:
“He (Ed Wells) served as a resource and a spokesperson for the technical community at the executive level.
He considered it his responsibility to support and develop employees in the technical community, and even
today, many senior employees recall the positive influence Ed Wells had on them.”
Ed Wells is enshrined in the National Aviation Hall of Fame.
Ed Wells was recognized for his modesty and
unfailing calm. “It was the character of the
man, that if you ever had been associated with
him you always felt he was your mentor,” said
T. Wilson, former SPEEA Executive Board
member who later became Boeing CEO and
president. The quote came from the book:
“Boeing’s Ed Wells.”
SPEEA-represented employees are shown here taking an off-hours class on
composites in the Ed Wells’ Renton office. The course was taught by a SPEEA
member, Samra Sangari, Ph.D., a subject matter expert.
• See the rest of the stories –
• Find Ed Wells online (Boeing intranet)