December 09, 2015 7:30AM
For all but two of his 34 years, David Redick has lived in the Midwest.
“I was born in San Diego, though, so I’ve always sort of felt like a Californian at heart,” said Redick, a manufacturing engineering technology major at Pittsburg State.
Following commencement ceremonies on Friday, Redick will prepare to return to California to begin his professional career at Tesla Motors as an associate product excellence engineer.
“In many ways, it feels like I’m going home,” Redick said.
Redick, a self-proclaimed “car guy,” said working for a company like Tesla was always a dream. But, he said, it was always just a dream.
“I never thought it would be possible,” he said. “It was a pipe dream. Now that it’s happening, I feel like I’m living someone else’s life. It doesn’t yet feel real.”
His journey to this moment began nearly five years ago when he decided, after a stint owning his own auto body business, to enroll in classes at Pittsburg State. Making that decision, however, was not easy.
“I was 30 at the time, and the thought of going back to school was a little scary,” he said. “I just knew that I wanted to do something with my life that required me to use my mind as much as my body. I needed a new challenge. I loved working on cars, but I wanted a clean slate.”
He took a variety of metal casting courses at Pitt State, where he found that challenge he was seeking.
“I really enjoyed the coursework,” he said. “Metal casting is something that had interested me since eighth grade, and PSU has one of the best facilities for this in the nation. I didn’t come in with any real expectations other than wanting to learn as much as possible, and I certainly accomplished that.”
Though he was nervous about starting his college career “at an old age,” he said he quickly felt right at home with the traditional-age students.
“At the end of the day, we’re all taking the same classes and have many of the same interests,” he said. “You tend to forget about the age difference.”
After nearly five years of commuting to campus from his home in Carthage, Mo., Redick said he looks back at his time as a PSU student as a genuine life-changing experience.
“I would have never had this opportunity with Tesla, or any major company like that, without the education I received at Pitt State,” he said. “No other school in the nation has the facilities and hands-on learning experience like we do. The culture and the atmosphere here are amazing, and I feel very lucky to have been a part of it.”