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Automotive Alumni becomes a Mechanical Designer

27 February 2020

Pratt Community College automotive alumnus, Zach Schridde, is currently a mechanical designer for Kiewit Corporation in Lenexa, Kan. Kiewit Corporation is an employee-owned Fortune 500 contractor. It is one of the largest construction and engineering organizations in North America. Schridde attended PCC from 2014-2016 and during his time here he learned the skills needed that helped him obtain his current job.
When Schridde was growing up, his grandfather fixed the automobiles on his farm. Growing up watching and learning from his father and grandfather, Schridde also took an interest in repairing automobiles. Schridde's grandfather has worked in an automotive shop for as long as he can remember and he still does to this day.
"I developed my interest in automotive on my grandpa's farm," said Schridde.
In grade school, Schridde was involved in kid's club wrestling. This is initially how he met Daryl Lucas, PCC automotive instructor. Lucas was Schridde's kid's club wrestling coach. During Schridde's time in the kid's wrestling club he looked up to and respected Lucas both as a coach and as a mentor. As Schridde began looking into careers and colleges Lucas caught his interest in the automotive department. Schridde was also still interested in wrestling and began talking to Ken Kepley, PCC wrestling coach.
"Those two gentlemen helped make my decision to go to PCC," said Schridde.
After Schridde graduated from PCC he continued his education at the University of Central Missouri. He pursued engineering and continued wrestling while at the University of Central Missouri. Upon graduation from the University of Central Missouri Schridde began his job as a mechanical designer at Kiewit Company. Schridde drafts plans of natural gas power plants and Kiewit builds them from the ground up.
"The electricity that the power plants make helps a lot of people," said Schridde. "I know people are benefitting from what I'm doing."
Schridde's favorite part of his job is the technology that he gets to work with. One of Kiewit's current initiatives is to help make the power plants more economically friendly by producing less waste.
In January of 2020 Schridde assisted the PCC automotive department at the Cars for Charities Rod and Custom Car Show in Wichita. Lucas asked Schridde if he would be interested in entering the truck that Schridde and his father were building. Schridde was interested in this opportunity and thus entered the truck.
"PCC gave me a better understanding of the mechanics of things," said Schridde. "When I went on to engineering I was ready."
In Schridde's opinion, PCC, is one of the better automotive programs around.
"There are great scholarship opportunities. PCC has a high standard of getting people ready for the real world. This breeds confidence. I came out ready to go. I take a lot of pride in the knowledge and skills I got from PCC. Because of the skills I was able to work in a job that paid my way through school."
The Automotive Technology department at Pratt Community College is fully certified by the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence Education Foundation (ASE). Automotive Technology students work in a live repair shop environment with state of the art equipment found in the auto industry including a full engine machine shop, engine and transmission dynamometers, and the latest tire, alignment, and electronic diagnostic tooling. Successful completion of all required courses earns students an Associate of Applied Science degree in Automotive Technology. They will also have the chance to be trained by industry professionals, participate in a race car project, car shows and many other exciting activities. All these experiences prepare students to become ASE certified prior to graduation, enhancing earning potential and career opportunities. For more information contact Daryl Lucas at daryll@prattcc.edu, or Greg Bacon at gregb@prattcc.edu.