Fostering futures: Textron Aviation's commitment to empowering youth with special needs through Project LIFE

Textron Aviation | Project LIFE
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Textron Aviation | Project LIFE

As children with special needs grow, the fear of the real world can become a looming wall, like a tidal wave getting ready to swallow them. Finding a community can help them connect to others and allow them to develop a sense of identity, as well as feel they're a part of something larger than themselves. 


Project LIFE, launched in 2007, is impacting lives in Wichita, Kansas, and across the nation. This comprehensive program combines classroom and life skill education with authentic work experiences to prepare students with special needs for a self-determined future. 


Textron Aviation works with many local schools as part of our commitment to providing students with experience and exposure to aviation and advanced manufacturing careers. In that effort, two students were recently selected as part of Project LIFE to support our Human Resources Talent Acquisition and Experimental Engineering departments for a semester. 


Embracing hands-on learning

Michael Dyer and Connor Whyte, both students at Maize High School with a love for sports and the outdoors, underwent administrative interviews and a skills day where their strengths were assessed before they were selected to participate in the program. 


Grounded in support from family and program managers, both students learned hard work and important qualities from an early age that prepared them for their roles at Textron Aviation.  


"I look up to my family. My mom is someone I admire because she's been supportive of me and has always been there for me," says Whyte. 


Nervousness is a feeling that comes with starting any new job — an influx of new information and faces — but it was Michael's excitement that pushed him through. 


"I was nervous because it was going to be new for me. I was also excited to see the opportunities I would discover here and the people I would get to meet," says Dyer. 

Textron Aviation | Project LIFE
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Textron Aviation | Project LIFE


This fall, students and educators from multiple middle and high schools visited Textron Aviation to celebrate National Manufacturing Day. Throughout the day, students learned about engineering, supply chain, fabrication, tooling, automation, assembly and much more. Interns Michael and Connor were integral in supporting the event. 

"I loved being a part of manufacturing day," says Whyte. "Everyone is so supportive of us. It was a great opportunity for us to be there putting materials together for visiting students." 

Textron Aviation | Project LIFE
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Textron Aviation | Project LIFE

Looking toward the future

Throughout their time spent as interns, both Michael and Connor learned important skills that they will be able to apply to the real world such as working on computers, marking parts, cycle counting those parts and learning how to put parts away, among other things. 


Helping others is a way we foster community and instill a sense of belonging in our lives. You can see that desire on Michael and Connor's faces and in their work — pointed into the future. 


"I'm looking forward to seeing what my future brings," says Dyer. "I love learning new jobs at Textron Aviation, and I'm willing to learn more jobs someday." 


Following the internship, both students plan to prepare for new opportunities at Epic Sports and Wichita State University (WSU). Additionally, Michael loves playing basketball for the Special Olympics and Connor continues to cheer for the Kansas Jayhawks. 


We pride ourselves in taking an active role in the communities we call home. We're dedicated to promoting well-being, fostering a sense of belonging and connectivity within our communities, and giving back through sponsorships, developmental opportunities and educational programs. Learn more about life at Textron Aviation at

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