AIRWAY HEIGHTS, Wash. -

The Airway Heights Corrections Center already has vocational programs that teach inmates skills like upholstery, but now it's the first prison in the state to get workers ready for Washington's growing aerospace industry.

Inmate students are learning how to design and construct composite materials, the new building blocks of the automotive and aviation industries. It's all part of the process to become certified aerospace composite technicians.

The program was started after companies like Boeing said they were running short on qualified workers.

"We asked those in the manufacturing industry what do they need to know in order to be employable and they've laid out, and our curriculum reflects, exactly what they told us they want to hire," said Dean of Education Dave Murley.

The real world job skills could also keep inmates from re-offending according to Deputy Director of Corrections Earl Wright.

"They're learning innovative skills that will prepare them for their release and being able to find jobs that are in the community now," Wright said.

The inmate students also know that by earning their certificate behind bars they can show prospective employers they've learned their lesson.

"Considering the circumstance of being a convicted felon, you've got to make the best of everything," said inmate Bruce Brown. "This class right here is real good."

The corrections center will graduate its first certified aerospace composite technicians in January.