Photo by Gus Chan / The Plain Dealer
Oct. 26, 2018 --
Desman Leonard was always a tinkerer. Taking things apart, figuring out how they worked. But, according to the 2016 Heights High graduate, “I didn’t have an outlet for that until I got to Heights.”
Desman initially joined the Stage Crew, starting out as a regular stagehand but eventually learning all the facets. He finished Heights with four years of theatrical audio training, having worked primarily as a sound technician.
During his sophomore year, he enrolled in an Introduction to Engineering and Design course taught by Greg Nachman, the first time his academic life mirrored his real world interests so closely.
Desman then joined the Heights Robotics team and was able to transfer all his computer-aided design and engineering knowledge to the Battle Bots field. “If it weren’t for Mr. Nachman and the courses I took at Heights, and especially my involvement with the Robotics Team, I wouldn't have the job I have now,” said Desman.
He was recently featured in a Cleveland Plain Dealer article
about the training programs offered by Talan Products, a manufacturing firm based in Collinwood that serves as a sponsor of the Heights High Robotics Team. The group visited on a school field trip, and Desman jokingly said to one of the plant managers, “Give me a call if you’re hiring.” And lo and behold, call they did. Shortly after graduation, Desman was invited to come work at Talan Products while earning his mechanical engineering degree at Tri-C.
After working hard to prove he belonged there, Desman now feels he has earned the respect of the older employees, and is currently the tool-and-die apprentice. He plans to stay there throughout his undergraduate years and then apply for a Masters in Engineering program at one of the nation’s Historically Black Colleges and Universities.
Desman believes that personal relationships and making connections with his high school teachers and advisors has played a key role in his current success. “Anything can turn into a career option,” he said. “Because you never know who knows who. Opportunities are everywhere. You just have to go out and find them.”
“Sometimes,” he added, “they find you.”