NEWARK, Ohio, December 28, 2016 – John Keaser Jr. grew up in Newark and is from a blue-collar family. All of his relatives worked in factories doing manual labor, and that is what he thought he was supposed to do as well. When Keaser graduated high school in 2003, going to college wasn't on the radar. He bounced around from manufacturing job to manufacturing job. He also dabbled in car sales, swimming pool installation and construction. Eventually, Keaser landed a solid job at a restaurant supply company in Columbus where he travelled around the United States installing stainless steel restaurant equipment.
"I was doing pretty well," said Keaser. "I was making pretty good money. Then in 2008, when the housing bubble burst, I was laid off. I finally said 'enough is enough.' I knew I wanted to be in charge of my own destiny. I decided I needed a trade or a skillset to separate me from the majority."
That is when Keaser enrolled at Central Ohio Technical College (COTC). He started taking classes and pursued a degree in engineering technology.
"I decided to roll the dice and chose drafting and design," said Keaser. "I remember buying a lot of the stuff for the class and having no clue what any of the stuff was. But, I immediately took a liking to it. I learned a lot at COTC. There were things I wasn't even aware of. COTC made me a more diverse person. I was never that great at math in high school but as an adult at COTC, I excelled at it. It was a great time in my life."
Keaser graduated from COTC in 2011 and eventually returned to the restaurant supply company that laid him off in 2008. However, this time he wasn't installing equipment. He was designing it.
"It was pretty ironic," said Keaser. "I worked there for a couple of years as a design engineer, designing the stuff I used to install."
Then, he saw a position for a lead computer-aided design engineer open up at a company called RoboVent in Columbus. Keaser applied and got the job. RoboVent provides industrial ventilation solutions for manufacturers.
"We go into manufacturing facilities, and we do air quality studies," said Keaser. "We sample the amount of particulate in the air and see what manufacturing processes produce contaminants. We find any contaminants that are produced at a facility that pollute the air. We find out where the contaminants are being created, and we use industrial ventilation design standards to put together solutions. For other solutions, we do computational fluid dynamic studies with software to map out airflow patterns in buildings. Based on all the information we gather, we design systems to clean up the air for people."
Keaser has been working at RoboVent for about two years. He enjoys going to the manufacturing facilities, hearing the concerns of employees, collecting and analyzing the data, and designing a ventilation solution to keep factory workers healthy and safe. Given his history, Keaser feels like this is a great job for him.
"I grew up in a blue-collar family. My family members worked in factories, and I worked in factories," said Keaser. "I was around manufacturing the majority of my adult life. Now, I'm on the other side of that making sure people like my family members are protected. It was what I was meant to do."
After COTC Keaser got a bachelor's degree from Ohio University, and now he's considering starting a master's degree program.
"You spend that time in college working for your degree. When you graduate you have to spend your time making that degree work for you. I feel like I have done that, and it has been great."
Central Ohio Technical College opened in 1971 and is celebrating its 45th anniversary in 2016. COTC is a fully accredited, public college dedicated to providing high-quality, accessible programs of technical education in response to current and emerging employment needs, as well as encouraging the professional development of students, staff, faculty and administrators to assist them in achieving their maximum potential. COTC is the only technical college in Ohio operating four full-service campus locations: Newark, Coshocton, Knox and Pataskala.