STUDENT OF THE WEEK: Durand senior steams toward engineering career | Education

DURAND — It makes poetic sense for a Railroader to wind up an engineer, and that’s just the career path Durand Area High School senior Aidan Custer has lined up for himself. His particular brand of engineering may have less to do with locomotives and more to do with wiring, but the point stands.

Custer has long been an applied science aficionado.

“I’ve always been a STEM guy,” he says. “I’ve always liked math and utilizing that, and I’ve always had a creative side of me, so having an output for that is appealing.”

Over the course of his high school career, a major outlet for Custer’s mechanically creative impulses has been the DHS robotics team, which he was a member of as a freshman, sophomore and junior.

“I was on the electrical and build teams, so I wired up everything for the robots we had — worked with, like, the pneumatic pistons, the pneumatic controllers — as well as building the chassis and drive motors,” said Custer.

He decided to take a step back from the team this year in order to pick up more hours at D-Railed Bar and Grill, where he’s a line cook, but admits to missing tinkering.

“I miss having something to work on. I like working with my hands,” he said.

It won’t be long before Custer is back on the engineering grind, though. He has been admitted to Kettering University in Flint, known for its unique co-op educational model, which places a heavy emphasis on work experience and doesn’t follow a traditional university timeline.

Starting in July Custer will be interning at Spartan Emergency Response, a Charlotte-based fire truck manufacturer, shadowing experienced engineers and learning the ins and outs of the work. Only after three months of on-the-job training will he begin more formal schooling.

Custer thinks that the Kettering model will allow him to hit the ground running post-college.

“I think it’s a great model to follow because I’m going to have two years of work experience in my field before I graduate. It’ll set me up for my future really well,” he said.

It’s fitting that Custer’s first internship will be for a fire truck manufacturer, as he currently does volunteer work for the Durand Fire Department, performing various odd jobs around the firehouse, doing equipment checks and helping clean the equipment.

A strong student, Custer sports a 3.94 GPA and is currently dual-enrolled at Mott Community College, where he’s ticking off a number of general education requirements in advance of his post-secondary days.

Outside of school and work — both paid and volunteer — Custer enjoys playing the guitar. He’s a self-taught rocker, taking inspiration from the likes of Metallica.

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