MiSTEM Regional Division 13

Engineering is Elementary explores aerospace engineering with Randy Rodes

Thank you, Randy Rodes, local Aerospace Engineer and President of SMI Aerospace Division, Skilled Manufacturing Inc. in Traverse City,  for a successful and well-received evening of EIE (Engineering is Elementary) on March 18!


In March, Randy was part of a well-received EIE workshop, hosted by the Northwestern Lower MiSTEM Network, that connected educators from across four school districts who were working with the Engineering Design Process and building parachutes, as part of a STEM experience to take back to their classrooms.  


Randy was able to share his own personal and professional journey as an engineer, offer helpful insight into the portal of aerospace engineering, specifically and provide context to educators on their design challenge.   

“It allows for transitions.’”

A take-away from Randy was that using the Engineering Design Process (Ask, Imagine, Plan, Create, and Improve)  is something you can use to allow for adapting.  He used examples of how SMI was able to successfully adapt and expand from automotive to aerospace and then from aerospace to quickly taking on the design and development challenge of shifting to ventilator parts at the onset of COVID-19 in March 2020; he says, “…it allows for transitions.”  He also shared the importance and application of vital soft skills, such as: communication, presentations, and teamwork.

Randy and several SMI employees also shared information about several positions at their company so that Michigan Works could create Career Profile Cards.  These are now part of an on-going resource that will benefit many students, counselors and schools across the 32 districts of northwestern lower Michigan.  These resources reflect a local relevancy featuring individuals, their career paths, testimonials, opportunities for a variety of job titles, feature local companies and reflect northern michigan salary ranges. You can see Randy’s card here

Interested in being part of the fun?

We are always looking for ways to connect our STEM businesses and professionals in a variety of careers and pathways for educators and students.

  • Career Profile Cards
  • Career Connections
  • Interviews
  • Tours – Virtually and Live

Contact Shelly VanderMeulen, Career Exploration Specialist

Skip to content