A Letter from DoD STARBASE Kansas Graduate, Erin Black Schmaderer

Recently I was made aware that the DoD STARBASE program was still going strong and it brought back so many fond memories that I wanted to let you know how important DoD STARBASE was in helping me find my career path. 

When I was in fourth grade at West Elementary School in Wamego, Kansas, my class got to go to DoD STARBASE once a week for several weeks.  I absolutely loved it!  Programming the robots and launching rockets are among some of my favorite memories.  I remember memorizing the phonetic alphabet.   I would study all week long so I could be the very best at the different challenges they gave us.  It was during this time I thought it would be amazing to join the Air Force.  That following summer I got the opportunity to go to Kennedy Space Center and I was completely hooked! I wanted to be able to design rockets and use science and engineering to change the world.

After graduating from high school I was unable to pursue my original dream of joining the Air Force due to a medical diagnosis.  However, I still wanted to pursue my dream to become an engineer.  I enrolled in the engineering program at Kansas State University (KSU) in Manhattan, Kansas.  At the end of my senior year I was awarded the “Extraordinary Leadership and Service Award” by Dr. William Dunn, the head of the Mechanical Engineering Department at KSU.

After graduating from Kansas State University in 2014, I was hired by Vortex Valves in Salina, Kansas where I enjoyed designing a variety of valves for dry goods.  In the summer of 2016, I made the change to Great Plains Manufacturing in Salina, Kansas where I currently work as a design engineer.   I am so glad I chose this path as I love using my mind and science to make new innovations and equipment for the betterment of us all. DoD STARBASE is where I got my start!  I loved attending DoD STARBASE and I am glad it is still around showing others the wonder of STEM careers. For all of you out there, find your passion and go for it. 

Erin Schmaderer

Posted August 2018

Erin Black Schmaderer