On the road: Kids, ports, and robots in Snohomish County

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Almost every student at Rise Up Academy would qualify for free or reduced lunch once they reach elementary school age. Too often, poverty is a predictor of lower academic achievement. But Rise Up Academy has turned that trend on its head. Kindergarteners read music and second-grade material. They exceed every expectation, and live up to the school’s motto: “I can learn anything.”

Gov. Jay Inslee visited on Wednesday to tour the school and meet Dr. Paul A Stoot, Sr., the facility’s director. Stoot has a clear vision in his mind of what works for the kids he serves and their families. He insists that students be taught beyond their age and to the maximum of their ability. He believes that extended hours help parents, and runs the facility from 6:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. And he has a clear vision for the future of the academy, including a possible expansion.

During a classroom visit with Dr. Terry Metcalf, a former NFL Pro Bowler turned teacher, students read, sang, laughed, and smiled. Metcalf asked the kids, “Can you read? Can you do math?”

“I can learn anything,” they replied.

A kindergarten student reads.
A kindergarten student reads second-grade material for Dr. Terry Metcalf at Rise Up Academy in Everett.

The governor also visited the Port of Everett on Friday, where $5 million in Climate Commitment Act funds will help the port electrify its Pier 3 to accommodate modern electric tugs and barges. The port’s earlier investments in electric infrastructure have paid off. They installed two massive electric cranes in 2019, and that investment proved smart right away. When the global supply chain jammed up in 2021, only those cranes could handle the larger, non-standard containers that got popular when standard containers were all bought up. Business boomed, helping the port overcome a slowdown in aerospace and naval cargo.

Cranes and tugs at the Port of Everett
The two green electric cranes in the background were installed in 2019. They can reach further over the water and collect larger, heavier containers than most other cranes.

In 2019, Airbus purchased a Mukilteo-based company that makes robotic manufacturing equipment for aerospace. Since then, their workforce has doubled from around 30 workers to over 70. Airbus has plans to hire another 30 workers by the end of 2024. Inside the plant, robots whir as they drill precision holes into airplane fuselages, a repetitive and injury-prone task for human workers. Engineers at the plant assure that robots are not soon to supplant human aerospace workers. In fact, aerospace manufacture is less automated and demands more human labor and quality control than most industries.

Employees at Airbus Robotics in Mukilteo pose for a group picture with Gov. Jay Inslee.
Employees at Airbus Robotics in Mukilteo pose for a group picture with Gov. Jay Inslee.

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