Growing and changing: the story of P&W Puerto Rico

From the day the site opened its doors, he was there.

Jorge Morales has been through it all as an employee at the Puerto Rico site of Pratt & Whitney, an RTX business. He was there in 2003, working as a mechanical engineer beside 40 other employees at a small location in the city of Mayaguez.

Today, he is the deputy general manager of the expanded location in Aguadilla, where more than 1,000 employees work – many of them building the future of military aircraft engines.

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“The evolution from then to now has been massive,” he said. “We’re a very different site.”

P&W Puerto Rico is shaping the future of military aircraft engines. Specifically, the site is tasked with supporting the company’s military propulsion systems.

“The Puerto Rico CORE performance is consistently at the top of the board in terms of delivering on results,” said Geoff Hunt, senior vice president of engineering for P&W. “It’s been a fantastic 20 years, and there’s much more to come.”

The Aguadilla site also supports STEM education efforts in their local community. The site partners with the University of Puerto Rico and sponsors the Turbolab, an aerospace laboratory that was inaugurated in 2022. Pratt & Whitney Puerto Rico also sponsors the Puerto Rico NAF Academy, whose first full graduating class of students are headed to college this fall.

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“We treat our initiatives within the community and schools the same as any other project that we do with engines,” Morales said. “These are long-term efforts that employees and leadership are engaged in.”

The social responsibility efforts taking place in Puerto Rico are designed to build and strengthen relationships with university students on the island and get them interested in the aerospace industry.

“We need to continue to be consistent with our efforts to build a long-term pipeline of talent into our site here,” Morales said. “These students have so much to offer, and leaders are very focused on being present in the universities and supporting student organizations.”

For the last 12 years, Ivonne Zapata has been a Pratt & Whitney employee in Puerto Rico. She started in performance system analysis for the industrial engines teams, was a supervisor for a modeling team, and now works as a senior engineer in aero thermal fluids.

Outside of their technical work, Zapata said, it’s really the character of the employees that makes the site in Aguadilla special.

“It’s so nice to be on site and working among the employees here. Regardless of where you sit, everyone helps everyone,” Zapata said. “It’s really a testament to how we do things and the culture here in Puerto Rico.”

The warm and welcoming culture of Puerto Rico, combined with support from the U.S. mainland and local Puerto Rican governments continue to propel the site forward.

“Most people underestimate what it takes to stand up a site like this – it’s a lot of effort and sacrifices. We’re very thankful for the relationships we’ve built and we are who we are today because of our people, our leaders, and our partners,” Zapata said.

Now, 20 years on from the introduction of the site in 2003, employees like Morales and Zapata are looking to the future.

“It’s exciting to think about how the whole industry will be so different by 2050 with the move towards sustainability and net zero,” Morales said. “We’re a global company and a modern company and I can’t wait to watch us continue to grow and work towards our goals.”