Mike Rudisill played the long game when it came to his education at Washtenaw Community College. He showed up, stayed late, listened, studied and connected with his instructors.
Today, he leads a team at an innovative tech company that focuses on future vehicle technology — from smart infrastructure to autonomous vehicles to driver experiences.
“Whether it’s a 3D printed camera mount, milling a custom electrical enclosure to survive the elements, or tube-bending and welding an entire vehicle frame then producing carbon fiber body panels, I get to lead the charge in the fabrication of it all,” says Rudisill, an engineering technician at Quantum Signal AI, a Ford subsidiary, in Saline.
After time in the Marine Corps and a series of post-service career starts, Rudisill credits WCC with guiding him to his new vocation and preparing him for success. The 33-year-old was raised in a family of general contractors. After high school, he enlisted in the Marines, where he worked as an intelligence analyst. After the Marines, he tried several different career paths, then hit a fork in the road.
Looking for solid direction for his future, Rudisill decided it was time to head to WCC. At first he planned to study welding, but after a semester, the robotics/ mechatronics program caught his eye. “I love building things, love the idea of designing, love technical challenges. But I also just love working with my hands, and this field in general allows me to do all of that,” says Rudisill, who earned an associate degree in Mechatronics, with focus/certification in Computer Numerical Control (CNC), Computer-Aided Design (CAD) and Computer-Aided Manufacturing (CAM).
Rudisill maximized his time and opportunities, talking with instructors, helping others and playing with robots in the lab. The conversations and connections proved valuable.
“The compound effect of extra experience and repetition of practicing what we were learning helped me get more out of it,” he says. “That’s how I got hired at this job. The CEO came to WCC and wanted to talk to instructors and get a short list of students.”
Rudisill was hired to expand Quantum’s internal fabrication/prototyping. In the four years since he arrived, the company has added numerous machines and tools. Rudisill programs, operates and maintains each one.
It all started with a good education.
“Day three in class, we’re out there with robots. Nothing beats the hands-on experience,” he says, adding that instructors work hard to provide a broad, deep knowledge base for students.
This story appears in the Winter 2024 edition of Launch magazine. See complete issue.