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Creator and innovator

Meet the Future: Jacob Tomasko

Name: Jacob Tomasko
School/grade level: Rockford High School and Kent Career Tech Center, senior
Passion: Engineering, especially mechanical or product design

Kent ISD — Kent ISD instructor Larry Ridley will tell you it was Jacob Tomasko’s passion and interest for engineering that put him at the top of the list when Magna Mirrors was looking for an intern.

Ridley noted that the Rockford senior picked up engineering concepts very easily and had the personality that he thought would best fit the company.

Conversely, Jacob will tell you that it was Ridley’s passion for engineering that helped him discover there is a vast number of opportunities and how to decide what was right for him.

“When I create something, it just kind of makes me feel special, like, ‘Wow, I created this. This is my idea and it works,’” Jacob said. “And it kind of helps people and I like helping people.”

Senior Jacob Tomasko says through Kent Career Tech Center he has discovered that engineering has many career paths

How old were you when this became something you were interested in, and what’s the story there? “As a kid, I liked playing with LEGOs and stuff like that along with playing video games. I just always wanted to build stuff, always wanted to create, always wanting to innovate, change things. 

“It was a fun, kind of peaceful thing. There was a lot of craziness going around when I was a child. My sister has been in and out of a battle with cancer, so it was easy just to give me something to do, whether it was a puzzle, a maze or LEGOs. Through that, I found a knack for the silence that would give you being able to sit and build and create something from a bunch of bags of spare parts.

“In middle school, I found a 3D design program that was an extremely simple program made up of blocks and cylinders. I started playing with that and I just found it cool that I could design something on a computer that you could eventually print. I thought that was pretty sweet. I then discovered a STEAM or an engineering arts class that offered very entry level CAD and engineering which taught the fundamentals of a program I already was using called Tinkercad

“It started making me think about how this is actually something pretty fun.”

Jacob Tomasko

Is there a teacher or teachers who have had a big impact? “When I got into high school, I started to pursue engineering more and more as my high school offered CAD classes. I started to understand that this could be a career path. I found out about Kent Career Tech Center and the Engineering and Architecture Design course, where I met Larry Ridley, whose passion helped me explore the field of engineering.

“I initially thought that engineering was just engineering. … I didn’t understand that there was mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, civil engineering — all these different routes just within engineering that study completely different things. I discovered even with a degree like mechanical engineering, how much stuff you can still do outside of that. 

“Through Ridley’s class, I got experience in what a mechanical or product design engineer career would be like in the real world. I found I really enjoyed engineering.”

A few related accomplishments: ”For this year, I took an internship with Magna Mirrors. I have had the opportunity to do many different things while continuing to explore what I want to do after graduation. I’ve learned how to run two different kinds of 3D printers and how to run a multitude of different kinds of tests … and using the intrusion molding machines. I’ve learned a lot about their innovation process, which I found really cool because (of) exploring the process of how an idea becomes a design. There’s always innovation happening. Little things definitely can change a mirror or a door handle or a charge flap. 

“Through Magna Mirrors, I learned how to solder. I also learned how to use a power bank and … test what wires do in and outside of a mirror to set up for benchmark testing.”

Do you plan to pursue this professionally? ”I am planning to attend Grand Valley State University. I do not have a very specific goal at the moment other than finding something in the mechanical or product design engineering world.”

Outside of engineering, what are your other hobbies/interests/little-known talents? ”I have played football for the past four years and rugby last year and I am planning to play rugby this spring.”

The biggest lesson you have learned is: ”Just pick an idea and run with it. Explore it. Don’t be afraid to just kind of throw it all out the window. If you don’t like it, there’s a lot of stuff you can try. I would really suggest that you go around and try to find exactly what you love to do as a career, because you’re gonna do it your whole life.“

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Joanne Bailey-Boorsma
Joanne Bailey-Boorsma
Joanne Bailey-Boorsma is a reporter covering Kent ISD, Godwin Heights, Kelloggsville, Forest Hills and Comstock Park. The salutatorian for the Hartland Public Schools class of 1985, she changed her colors from blue and maize to green and white by attending Michigan State University, where she majored in journalism. Joanne moved to the Grand Rapids area in 1989, where she started her journalism career at the Advance Newspapers. She later became the editor for On-the-Town magazine, a local arts and entertainment publication. Her eldest daughter is a nurse, working in Holland, and her youngest attends Oakland University. Both are graduates from Byron Center High School. She is a volunteer for the Van Singel Fine Arts Advisory Board and the Kent District Library. In her free time, Joanne enjoys spending time with her family, checking out local theater and keeping up with all the exchange students they have hosted through the years. Read Joanne's full bio


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