KC Electronics Program: Charles in Charge
Charles Raimondi has always been interested in new technology. When he accepted a full-time position as the Electronics instructor at Kishwaukee College in 2014, he made his mission to bring what he knew into the classroom and bring the classroom into the 21st century to meet the ever-changing industry head on. “I began to rebuild the program to make it more responsive to industry needs,” he said. “I think part of my role as a community college instructor is to make sure my program supports local industry.”
Charles certainly knows a little bit about industry. After spending 6 years in the U.S. Air Force in Avionics, he earned a B.S. in Electronics and Engineering Technology from DeVry and an M.S. in Manufacturing Engineering Systems from Western Illinois University. He had a great career working for Mitsubishi in Kentucky, Motorola in Libertyville, and as a General Contractor, positions that relied heavily in his engineering and electronics acumen. “Over time I seemed to be doing more training, and so I became interested in more formally becoming a teacher,” he said.
After years working in the field, Charles returned to the classroom himself to add on a M.A. in Teaching from National Louis University. He joined the faculty at Elgin Community College under a grant program to teach industrial maintenance to dislocated workers before moving on to Waukegan Middle School where he taught science, integrating technology into his curricula, for five years. Being at the middle school helped him realize that his true calling was in the community college system. When the full-time faculty position opened at Kishwaukee College, he jumped at the chance to be in a college classroom and direct a program.
“Community colleges really allow you to interact with students in small classes and to interact with local industry. When you work with students and industry, you really become part of the growth of the community itself,” he said. “I try to give students the tools they need to get the job they want and to be prepared for job movement because there is a broad spectrum of positions in the field. Students leave here well-trained and that benefits them and all of us. Production improves and businesses grow with a well-trained workforce.”
Staying current in the field means developing a relationship with local industry leaders and recruiting them to be on an Electronic Advisory Committee at the College. “Electronic systems have a purpose and function that is integrated into something more complex in industry,” he explained. “Industry is changing so fast. For example, most techs now have smartphones with them and that means they have real time data available while they are running the lines.” By working closely with local industry and getting their input, Charles can keep his curricula on pace with what is happening right now in the working world.
Being a faculty member itself is far from a one-dimensional job. Charles wears many hats during the course of a typical semester. “I am an instructor, counselor, mentor, advisor, builder,” he stated. “I do outreach and keep my finger on the pulse of industry.”
But still, for Charles, the real motivation, the real joy, is in the classroom. “Teaching is fun,” he explained. “I like to see students working and learning. They come into my class knowing very little and 16-weeks later, I can have a professional conversation with them because they have the knowledge. I like to see that growth and watch them progress and land positions in the field.”