Andrew Rios has always been fascinated by machines and how they work, but he was unsure how to turn that into a career. After high school, Andrew attended college to study engineering but didn’t feel that was the right path for him. So, he started working at AmeriCorps VISTA, where he volunteered at robotics competitions with the non-profit organization, KC STEM Alliance. That’s where he found his passion working with machines.
AmericCorps VISTA is a federal agency for volunteerism and national service, providing opportunities for Americans to serve their communities.
While working with the KC STEM Alliance through AmeriCorps VISTA, Andrew made several friends who work at the Kansas City National Security Campus (KCNSC) and volunteer at the KC STEM Alliance. The enjoyment he has for building and teaching students about robotics was noticeable. Members of the KC STEM Alliance toured the KCNSC, where Andrew was encouraged to apply for the organization’s HOPE Scholarship.
As a HOPE Scholar, Andrew found the mentorship rewarding and helpful in guiding him towards his goal of becoming a general machinist. Andrew’s mentor was Michael Smith, who said, “The HOPE Scholarship is a great opportunity for students seeking a path to attend a trade school or community college. Finding technical talent in today's workforce can be quite challenging and the HOPE Scholarship helps fill this skills gap in the market. It's great to see Andrew become a success story with completing his degree and choosing to start his career here at KCNSC as a machinist. It has been a pleasure to mentor him over the last two years!”
For Andrew the real enjoyment is found in creating a product. “I love making things and just every part of that process, but engineering is a little too ‘mathy’ for me. I prefer the tactile hands-on experience, and machining is just that. You take the hunk of metal and make it look like the blueprint, and you get the finished product immediately,” said Rios.
Andrew’s experience with the KC STEM Alliance and volunteering at robotics competitions gave him a love of volunteering and a great group of friends, many of whom work at the KCNSC. “I love a lot about robotics. I love the community, because it is a great bunch of people who work here. I enjoy robots! It’s fun to play games, to watch and see them get built, and I enjoy teaching kids how to work with robotics.”
Andrew started working at the KCNSC as a general machinist in January 2022. He is happy that he will be working with the many friends he made volunteering at robotics competitions, while also fulfilling his goal of becoming a general machinist.
The Honeywell Opportunity for Prosperity through Education (HOPE) Scholarship prepares students for skilled positions at the KCNSC where science, technology and innovation converge. These are modern manufacturing jobs in support of national security. Honeywell FM&T operates the KCNSC for the United States Department of Energy / National Nuclear Security Administration.