Many college-bound high school students look forward to leaving Maine and living in a big city, where it seems there’s more to offer. Tyson LaRochelle, a 2006 graduate of Lewiston High School, was no exception.

“I wanted to get out of my own element and try new things. I wanted more diversity in not only the landscape, but the people too. I figured if I went to (the University of Maine in Orono) with all my friends, it would just be an extension of high school. I would just settle into the same routine, doing the same things, hanging around with the same people.”

“I wanted new, fresh challenges,” he said.

And like many Maine high school graduates who head out of state to college, LaRochelle developed career prospects near his college. He had internships and summer jobs with a number of large corporations while attending Wentworth Institute of Technology in Boston, including at Lockheed Martin, where he was involved with robotics and had the opportunity to work on high-tech missiles and firing control systems on the forefront of technology. 

But as LaRochelle was nearing graduation he was also feeling an appreciation for his home state.

“I realized I really liked the way of life in Maine. I love the outdoors, the laid-back nature of people, and all that the state has to offer. Sure it does not have as many restaurants, shops and fancy places. But for some of us who like to play in the snow and enjoy the outdoors, this is the place,” he said.

During high school, LaRochelle had enrolled in the vocational program at Lewiston Regional Technical Center, where he took electrical and engineering courses. Through the program, he had landed an internship at Downeast Machine and Engineering in Mechanic Falls. He returned there during some of his summer breaks from college. He liked the work, but didn’t think much more about it.

But Mike Hamlyn, managing partner at Downeast, did.

Hamlyn was so impressed with LaRochelle during his time there that when Hamlyn heard of LaRochelle’s pending college graduation, he contacted him on Facebook and asked if he would be interested in coming to work full time as a design engineer.

Being a project engineer in Maine, designing mixers for sand and other projects may not be as exciting or lucrative as working on cutting-edge missile defense systems, but for LaRochelle, it was a career — and lifestyle — option he couldn’t pass up, and would allow him to use his new skills to help a local company grow.

For Hamlyn, it was a matter of connecting with someone who he knew would not only fit into the company, but who would enjoy the work and lifestyle. And it brought new ideas and techniques to a growing company in a highly competitive industry.

Today, LaRochelle is having fun racing old snowmobiles in the winter and spending as much time outdoors in the summer as possible. One of his co-workers even convinced him to train for a triathlon last year.

And while he continues to bring new ideas to Downeast Machine and Engineering, LaRochelle has also started his own custom concrete business, Rusty’s Rocks, specializing in custom-built concrete sinks.

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.

filed under: