As an automation engineer with Intertech Plastics, Kevin spends his days designing end effectors. These devices mount to the end of robotic arms to interact with and manipulate parts.
From the age of five, Kevin loved to tinker. He spent hours taking things apart to figure out the mechanics of each piece and how they worked as a whole. Since he enjoyed working with his hands, Kevin thought he would join the U.S. Air Force after high school and fix planes. His post-secondary vision for himself changed when he began taking Cherry Creek School District’s Career and Technical Education (CTE) courses.
Shortly after, Kevin joined the school's robotics team as the leader of manufacturing. He was responsible for managing a group of students and coordinating advanced manufacturing professionals to come in and work with the team. Kevin said, "[this] experience is what absolutely cemented my interest in pursuing a career in engineering and specifically advanced manufacturing.”
As a person with severe ADHD, traditional classroom learning was challenging for Kevin. He did not wish to pursue higher education programs after high school. Knowing this, Kevin’s CTE teachers suggested he pursue an RA program while still in high school. Since advanced manufacturing is one of the largest industries in Colorado, exposure to the industry is an important part of CTE and RA experiences. “I think apprenticeships are really good at making young people aware of the industries and options that sometimes get overlooked, and sometimes those are the fields that have the best opportunities,” Kevin noted.
Initially, Kevin began an RA with Micron Technology, Inc. A few months into the program, Micron’s general manager recommended he interview for a position at Intertech Plastics. This opportunity was the result of a partnership between Jobs for the Future (JFF) and CareerWise Colorado youth apprentice program. With his high school experience and his knowledge of computer-aided design (CAD), Kevin was a desirable candidate for the engineering technician RA
Kevin began his RA with Intertech during the fall of his senior year. He had many opportunities to directly apply his talents in robotics by helping design and implement machines. By the end of the program, Kevin had built a substantial portfolio, something he doesn’t think he would have been able to do had he gone the traditional post-secondary path.
Now, having graduated from the CareerWise RA program, Kevin has a full-time position with Intertech while studying advanced manufacturing sciences part-time at Metropolitan State University (MSU). Although he originally didn’t envision going into higher education after high school, he shares that MSU is the perfect fit in terms of balancing his classes with his full-time job. “I think the reason why I’m doing well in college now is because even with my general education classes, I’ve always liked learning and the weight of securing a full-time role is already off my shoulders,” he said.
Having been in a full-time role for more than four years, Kevin is proud of his contributions to the team. He has designed and implemented automation systems throughout the factory. His main contribution, machines built to inspect products before they are distributed, has saved the company millions. Kevin credits his self-advocacy to securing a full-time position with Intertech. He continually asked his supervisor if he could take on more projects and responsibility, and he encourages incoming youth apprentices to do the same.
Publish Date: 01/24/2024