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Customer Profile: Joe LaFevre, Knox County Career Center

We caught up with Joe LaFevre, precision machining Instructor at Knox County Career Center, Mount Vernon, OH, to find out more about him and his insights on teaching CAD/CAM and machining. Here is what he had to say.

Why did you choose manufacturing?

I graduated from the Knox County Career Center’s Precision Machining class in 2007. My brother and uncle graduated from the same class in different years. When I was growing up, my father had a hydraulic business and, at an early age, I started working around the shop. My uncle was the Senior Manufacturing Engineer overseeing the Rolls-Royce machine shop here in Mount Vernon at one time. My brother has been an employee of Ariel since 1997 and my grandfather on my father’s side was a mechanical engineer. Manufacturing and everything it entails runs in our blood.

When you look at everything around us, you realize that everything is manufactured. Manufacturing is what drives our country. The point of life is making an impact, so if you’re going to be a master of something, why not be a master at something that’s the backbone of our country and impacts our world in a positive way?

What was your first job?

During my junior year of high school, I worked at Automation Tooling Systems in Lewis Center, OH. I was laid off in February the following year. I finished my senior year and was helping my dad in his hydraulics company. After graduation, I worked at HPM in Mount Gilead and then later worked in Cleveland. I enrolled in school and started chipping away at my bachelor’ degree in Engineering, which I earned last spring.

What advice do you have for people who want to pursue careers in manufacturing?

Come into it with an open mind. Stick with it. Don’t ever allow any kind of negativity to drag you down. You set the tone for whatever you’re doing, so act accordingly. If you come to work with a down attitude, expect to have a down day. If you come in with a positive attitude, expect to have a positive day. And that rings true with everything.

I see that everywhere in life, not just in manufacturing. If you want to grow in your career, then you’re the only person that can make that happen.

If you could spend the day in the life of someone else, whose would it be?

As one of my students so that I could better understand myself as a teacher.

What was the first career that you dreamed of having when you were a kid?

In the very early years, I wanted to be a baseball player. It went from baseball player to engineer, and I remember that because my dad had a talk with me at some point. He said, “Look, you’re an excellent baseball player, but the chances of a right-handed, 5’7” first baseman making it to major leagues is not likely. I want to guide you in the right direction, so I’m telling you to get into engineering.”

Who or what was your biggest teacher?

That’s tough because I’ve had so many. I would say my dad, my brother, my shop teacher, and my work mentors. My former boss is one of my mentors. I stay in touch with him. He is a great friend and mentor in life and in my career.

Maybe I bring a little bit of the engineering mindset to how I learned in life. I see how everyone’s doing things, and then I formulate my own method based on what I liked about each individual’s approach.

What are you most proud of professionally?

Coming back to the school I graduated from to teach my trade.