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Manufacturing program lured Bonine to RCC

David Bonine grew up in Central Oregon, surrounded by tools and a family who taught him the skills to use them.

“My grandfather had a machine shop in his backyard, so by the time I was 9, I could operate a lathe,” Bonine recalled. His father taught Bonine to shoe a horse when he was 14, and those combined skills instilled in him an interest in design and technical expertise.

Now pursuing a degree in manufacturing and engineering at RCC, Bonine is carrying a 3.8 GPA and preparing to transfer to Oregon Institute of Technology.

“At RCC there’s a plethora of up-to-date, industry-standard tools and instructor expertise available to learn just about anything you need to know in manufacturing,” he noted. “I’m getting hands-on experience with every machine in the RCC shop. I’m kind of a knowledge hog, so the more, the better.”

After graduating from La Pine High School, Bonine joined the U.S. Army. He served six years, including tours with the Bosnian stabilization force, leaving the service as a sergeant in 2001.

Returning to La Pine he followed his father’s footsteps into the family horseshoeing trade. Over the next 10 year he also logged and worked in machine shops. Horseshoeing, however, took a physical toll, and making a living in Central Oregon can be challenging, said Bonine, who’s now 35. He renewed a longtime self-taught interest in design, working from pencil drafting to computer modeling.

“I always knew I wanted to get an engineering degree,” Bonine said. “I looked around at different programs, and RCC’s seemed the best and very professional. I came down to see the equipment, and I connected with the instructors and liked the area. It all just clicked,” he said.

“The availability of technology at RCC is awesome. There aren’t a lot of other colleges that offer as much. RCC’s manufacturing program is topnotch,” he explained. Bonine’s goal is to own a customized engineering manufacturing company before he graduates from OIT.

All the program instructors have been great, said Bonine, adding that Steve Foster has been especially helpful. “If he doesn’t have the answers on the spot, he finds out right away. Steve’s very resourceful and has a lot of connections within the industry,” Bonine said.

“He’s all about making the program better. Manufacturing is an industry that changes constantly, and he’s open to new ideas and approaches and that will keep the program moving forward with the industry.”

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David Bonine & Steve Foster

Steve Foster went from student to teacher

When Steve Foster graduated in 2000 from RCC with a degree in a manufacturing and engineering, he was immediately hired by a local manufacturing shop and started teaching part time at Rogue.

With only a brief interlude when the program was on hiatus, Foster has taught at Rogue ever since. He also worked at Aviation Associates, a Grants Pass shop where all the employees are either RCC grads or current students, according to Foster. In 2010 he became a full-time RCC instructor.

“I’ve always enjoyed teaching,” he said. “It’s pretty cool when someone comes in who has lost their job and they’re scared of the equipment. And you teach them how to operate it and at the end of the day they hold up a part they made,” Foster explained.

“As an instructor, you get to show them how to learn a trade. They realize they’re not always going to be stuck pumping gas or in a mill,” he continued. “We teach them they can do it if they put their mind to it and put in the effort.”

A strong component of the program, he noted, is the expertise offered by an array of part-time instructors, each an expert in a particular aspect of manufacturing.

According to David Bonine, a current manufacturing student, all the program instructors have been great but Foster is especially helpful.

“If he doesn’t have the answers on the spot, he finds out right away. Steve’s very resourceful and has a lot of connections within the industry,” Bonine said.

“He’s all about making the program better,” Bonine continued. “Manufacturing is an industry that changes constantly, and he’s open to new ideas and approaches and that will keep the program moving forward with the industry.”

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