Kanawha native named director of RCBI aerospace center

April 20, 2018

Rand native Ralph Workman, an engineer and manager with extensive experience in the aviation industry, has been named Director of RCBIAero, the Robert C. Byrd Institute’s (RCBI) new aerospace proof-of-concept and training center in Huntington.

The U.S. Economic Development Administration awarded RCBI a $500,000 Regional Innovation Strategies grant last year to establish RCBIAero. This is only the second such award in the Mountain State and the first for southern West Virginia.

“Ralph’s vast experience in the aviation and aerospace industry, working at all levels from product development to plant management, provides him with the insights and experiences to help take the aerospace sector in our region to the next level,” said Charlotte Weber, RCBI Director & CEO.

Workman said his mission as Director of RCBIAero is three-fold. “We are developing a first-class aerospace prototype center,” he said. “Second, we are providing assistance to regional companies – especially those affected by the downturn in the coal industry – by helping them transition to suppliers for the aerospace industry. And, we are working to bring large aerospace primes to the region to discuss new technologies in aerospace markets and talk about potential partnerships – which would create jobs and new opportunity.”

Workman began his aerospace career with Teledyne Inc., a large defense contractor, working on F-15 and F-16 fighter jets. He then worked as a manufacturing engineer for Piper Aircraft in Vero Beach, Fla., where he was promoted to plant manager. Workman also served as a manufacturing engineer for Sikorsky Aircraft, helping produce Black Hawk and King Stallion helicopters for the U.S. military.

In addition, Workman has worked for major manufacturers including Michelin Tire (where he spent more than three years working in France) and Toyota Motor Manufacturing of West Virginia. Since 2016, Workman has served as a technical trainer for Apprenticeship Works, the National Advanced Manufacturing Apprenticeship Partnership at RCBI.

A graduate of the former DuPont High School, Workman is an Army veteran and licensed private pilot. He earned associate and bachelor’s degrees in design engineering technology from West Virginia Institute of Technology, a financial management certificate from Cornell University and is pursuing a master’s degree in leadership studies at Marshall University.