Bearded bros share interests, fine facial hair

Dean Kerste and Mike Reaume look over student-made design plans.

Beards are not the only thing two men in the Career Technology Center have in common.

Other than growing impressive facial hair, Dean Kerste and Mike Reaume both share a love of motorcycles, craft beer, and their work.

“All I can say about Mike is he’s really easy-going, laid back. I’ll be damned, he got me hooked on craft beer – he’s into craft beer. Now I’m at the store buying $15 bottles of craft beer, because of Mike,” he laughs.  “Every time a new one comes out, he’s texting me and telling me about it. He’s really laid-back; a great person to work with.”

Kerste is a professor of Mechanical Design Technology. Mike is an ASET Technician/Perkins Technical Specialist.

Riding motorcycles has been a hobby for Kerste for the last 11 years and the last five for Reaume. Kerste recalls a trip he had been wanting to take on his motorcycle and was finally able to go on recently.

He held out his left hand with his palm facing down and traced the route.

“I started in Monroe here, five days by myself. Shot over to the west coast and went all the way around the perimeter, crossed the bridge for lunch, then I came back around,” he said.

Kerste fell in love with drafting after he took a course in high school. This passion carried him through his many years of education.

He got a scholarship to MCCC for the design program and worked for 10 years as a CAD system administrator.

“When I was working on my first couple associate’s, the first day of class the instructor said you had to do an oral presentation – and I dropped the course. I hated public speaking,” the 51-year-old said.

“Now I do it every day,” he laughed.

It wasn’t love at first sight for drafting when it came to Reaume.

“I think my two interests in and out of high school were primarily music, which I still do, and then I was also interested in doing custom car design and fabrication,” he said.

The 31-year-old spent a few semesters at Washtenaw Community College, but after a little while there, he changed his mind.

“They had a custom cars program, but after doing that for a little while, I felt more like it was just a glorified body shop program and I didn’t feel like I really wanted a job where I was just going to be breathing paint fumes all the time,” Reaume said.

He came to MCCC to finish his degree and started taking design classes and ended up falling for 3D design.

“So I do this by day and play music by night,” he said.

After getting an associate’s degrees, Kerste was placed with a company as a co-op student and worked there from the age of 18 to the age or 21. He then took over as the CAD system manager and decided to come back to school.

“I took over as their CAD system manager and because I didn’t have really any experience in management or administration, I came back to community college for a second associate’s in Industrial Management,” Kerste said.

He wasn’t finished yet and decided to pursue a bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Design.

He started working at the college in 1994 and went back to college once again for a master’s in Career Technology and rounded out his education with a doctorate in Higher Education Leadership.

“I think he’s a consummate professional and a real star in the asset division.  I’ve know him since 1994 and I don’t think he’s ever stopped going to school or training or seminars,” Pat Nedry, professor of business said. “His skills just keep growing. I don’t know where he puts them all!”

Reaume got to MCCC not long after getting an associate’s in the spring of 2012.

Both men have a second job outside of their work here at MCCC. Reaume plays in a band called Man Mountain.

Reaume will be going on tour at the end of September.

“We’ll be starting in either Bozeman, Montana or Salt Lake City, depending on if we do a tour kickoff with our friends, and then it’s going to go down through Vegas and then up through California, hitting Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Redding,” he said.

The band will go to Portland and then to Boise before coming home.

Kerste owns a design business and talked about the time he was called to refurbish the inside of a few Black Hawk helicopters for the king of Jordan. The inside looked like the inside of a limousine once they were finished.

“He wanted LED light strips on the steps so during nighttime people could see the steps and I get an email back saying they needed shades, like some type of lamp shade over the LED strip, because otherwise they’d take on gunfire,” Kerste said. “It would be a target if they had a direct light source, so we had to go back and shade all those LED strips.”

He says he had never thought of that, because it’s not normally ever a concern in his field.

The pair went around the design classrooms, pointing out machines and tools.

Kerste described what each machine does, his eyes lighting up as he talked about doing one of the things he loves to do.

He picked up models made by Mike, himself, and students and explained how they’re made.

Kerste and Reaume had explained that one of their favorite types of memories of their time so far at MCCC has been about students.

“Many of our students find employment while they’re taking classes here, so the best memories are when they stop back in to let you know that they did get the job in the design field, and just see their excitement,” Kerste said.

“He’s a good teacher, he explains everything well.  He’s friendly, he helps when you need it,” student Samuel Mohn said.

Reaume spoke about helping students in class.

“It’s always cool to help a student that’s struggling to understand something and you’re able to explain it to them in a way that makes sense and just kind of watch it click and all of a sudden it makes sense to them and their excited about it. That’s always pretty cool.”

They joked back and forth over their beards, which they’ve each had since the age of 18. A few years ago, they each decided separately to start growing them out.

“But I can’t compete with Mike,” Kerste says. “Mike’s band just came out with beard oil too.”