Michael C. Bickel, president and CEO of RPS Holdings, was named the 2014-15 Honored Alumnus of Cal Poly’s Orfalea College of Business. He is a 1995 graduate of the college’s Industrial Technology area, which combines a business education with technical courses covering the operations side of manufacturing. He went on to complete his master’s degree in the same discipline at Cal Poly in 2002.
Bickel has been an involved member of the college’s Industrial Technology Advisory Board since 2005. In that role, he has contributed to the overall strategic plan of the area. Bickel has also guest lectured in a product development course, orchestrated industrial technology projects and mentored student teams. In 2008, Bickel created the Bickel Family Scholarship Endowment to support incoming industrial technology freshmen.
“Mike is a great friend of the college and a prime example of how the comprehensive polytechnic model works here,” says Orfalea College of Business Dean Scott Dawson. “The Industrial Technology area has built such a great reputation, and we know that’s in part to leaders like Mike who help guide it forward.”
Bickel’s company, RPS Holdings, owns Rantec Power Systems, an engineering and upper-tier designer and manufacturer of power supplies for the military and aerospace markets based in Los Osos, Calif. He started his career at Rantec in 1982 as a quality assurance inspector. After he rose to the position of general manager, Bickel purchased the company to oversee its expansion and success. He continues to serve as Rantec’s president. Today, Rantec employs many Cal Poly alumni from the College of Engineering; roughly 60 percent of its professional hires are Cal Poly graduates.
Bickel lives locally with his wife, Lori (Graphic Communications ‘86). His daughter, Alexandra (Recreation, Parks & Tourism Administration ‘12), is also a Cal Poly alumna, and son Aaron is an alumnus of the University of Oregon (Economics ’14).
The title of Honored Alumni is the highest honor bestowed on an alumnus by the Cal Poly Alumni Association. Cal Poly named its first Honored Alumnus in 1953. In the 1970s, the university began recognizing former students from each of its academic colleges. Bickel joins this year’s cohort of Honored Alumni from Cal Poly’s other colleges, as well as awards for leadership and distinguished services.
For more information, visit Cal Poly’s Homecoming website.