Richland College has named Raghunath Kanakala to the position of executive dean of its School of Engineering and Technology. Kanakala’s appointment was approved by the Dallas County Community College District Board of Trustees Dec. 4, and he will assume this role in early 2019.
Kanakala currently serves as dean of technical education at Aiken Technical College in South Carolina. While there, Kanakala has overseen 12 technical education program areas, including industrial maintenance, welding, HVAC, CNC, graphics, electrical technology, radiation protection, tower, nuclear fundamentals, pre-engineering, physics and chemistry.
Prior to his current role at Aiken Technical College, Kanakala was an assistant professor in the University of Idaho – Idaho Falls College of Engineering, a research scientist and lecturer for the Inamori School of Engineering at Alfred University in New York and a graduate research and teaching assistant in the Colleges of Engineering at the University of Nevada Reno and the University of Nevada Las Vegas.
His academic leadership has included management of a $2.5 million Individuals Safety Training to Achieve Climber Credentials grant to train and place low-skilled workers, Trade Adjustment Assistance-certified workers and others in high-demand jobs in the tower industry and to reduce fatalities in the industry. He also holds a U.S. Patent in “combustion synthesis method and boron-containing materials produced therefrom,” and has developed curriculum, published 16 articles in industry journals and delivered numerous conference presentations.
At Richland College, Kanakala will provide academic leadership for the School of Engineering and Technology, which offers programs in computer information technology, computer science, cyber security, engineering, engineering technology (advanced manufacturing and electronics technology), interactive simulation and game technology, multimedia, networking/authorized training (Amazon Web Services, Cisco, Microsoft, Oracle, UNIX), photography/imaging, PC support and semiconductor manufacturing technology.
The Richland College School of Engineering and Technology also supports the Technology, Engineering and Advanced Manufacturing Center, a learning space for relevant, hands-on experience and career-focused training with leading edge, industry-quality technology for engineering and manufacturing students.
Upon entering his new role, Kanakala hopes to advance Richland College’s student success initiatives, faculty development and community partnerships, particularly regarding apprenticeships, internships, curriculum development and articulation agreements.
“I would like to increase the awareness about engineering transfer degrees,” Kanakala said. “Also, I would like to work on improving the apprenticeship models for different programs.”
“Dr. Kanakala brings proven leadership experience in engineering and technology education, and I am very excited to welcome him to Richland College as our new executive dean,” said Shannon Cunningham, Richland College executive vice president for academic affairs and student success. “I know he will continue to advance the mission, vision and strategic direction for our School of Engineering and Technology as we continue to deliver programs that meet industry demand and promote student success.”
Kanakala holds a Ph.D. and a Master of Science in Materials Science and Engineering from the University of Nevada Reno. He also earned a Master of Science in Electrical Engineering from the University of Nevada Las Vegas and a Bachelor of Electrical and Electronics Engineering from the Gandhi Institute of Technology and Management.
When Richland College was awarded the $3.25 million Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training (TAACCCT) grant from the U.S. Department of Labor in Sept. 2014, the potential impact on local industry was evident. The funds from this grant, along with multiple partnerships with employers in Dallas, Richardson and Garland, would equip Richland College with the tools and technology needed to train local veterans and others seeking to enter or re-enter the high-demand technology job market. In turn, local companies would receive qualified employees ready for immediate employment and trained on industry-recognized equipment.
Richland College’s Technology, Engineering and Advanced Manufacturing (TEAM) Center is a very tangible result of the TAACCCT grant funds. The space is fully equipped with leading edge, industry-quality technology that allows engineering and manufacturing students to have relevant, hands-on experience and career-focused training. It features an advanced manufacturing center, electronics engineering equipment, a robotics training lab and multiple classrooms for additional technology training.
It is in this innovative, technologically advanced place that the other tangible results of the grant have been taking shape as students prepare to enter the workforce.
Cisco Iturbe is an electrical engineering technology student at Richland College and a U.S. Marine Corps veteran. He has been attending Richland College for several semesters and is looking forward to graduating soon with one course remaining. His immediate goal is to get a job in the electrical engineering field, and he hopes eventually to own his own business.
After completing four years of active duty and two years in the reserves, Iturbe came to Richland College because of the equipment he saw set up in the labs, which he felt allowed students the opportunity to learn in an industry-standard environment and gain vital hands-on experience. As a student, the variety of equipment available has also provided Iturbe the opportunity to enhance his electronics technology education with experience in other areas that may help him in the future, such hydraulics, manufacturing and robotics.
“For me, doing things hands-on is very important,” said Iturbe. “Once you get your hands on something, it makes a world of difference because if you’ve never touched it, you don’t know what it feels like or what it does. If you don’t know that, then how are you going to do anything with it? So Richland College gives me the opportunity to learn and embed it as a muscle memory, not just an educational memory.”
“I would recommend Richland because of the different areas they teach you,” said Iturbe. “I’m here for electronics, but I’ve learned a few other things that have helped. Richland is here to help in a lot of ways—so many people want to help you. The staff is really uplifting, and the professors really know their stuff.”
According to Garth Clayton, Ph. D., Richland College’s dean of resource development, Iturbe is one of approximately 50 veterans who are now involved in the advanced manufacturing or electronics technology programs in the TEAM Center.
“One of the things we offer here is the replication of the real experience,” said Clayton. “We have invested a great deal of our resources in offering different brands of the same equipment that people use in real life. And what happens is that [the students] learn to do everything here to walk into the job, able to work with whatever the employer provides. So they are hitting the ground running whenever they obtain one of our degrees or certificates.”
Advanced manufacturing student Monica Lee has watched the TEAM Center develop around her and become a thriving learning space as she has studied at Richland College during the past three years.
“I was looking to do something with 3D modeling and design, things like AutoCAD and industrial design. I live here in Dallas, and I was doing research and saw that Richland had those classes offered here,” said Lee. “I came down and checked out the campus and was really impressed with what was available. Even though the lab wasn’t finished when I started, I got to see it come to fruition, and it’s just an amazing facility.”
To prepare Lee and other advanced manufacturing students, the program at Richland College teaches them each step of the process, starting with designing a part on a computer that will later be manufactured. From there, students design how the machine will cut the part, and once that is complete, they simply walk down the hall to the lab and actually create what they designed, cutting the metal and setting up the machines themselves. Lee describes this start-to-finish education as hands-on support to what students learn in the classroom, which to her is key to understanding what goes into the technical requirements of manufacturing.
Lee will graduate this May with not only her class experience, but also on-the-job training through an internship obtained via Richland’s corporate partnership with Raytheon Precision Manufacturing, where she hopes to continue working and growing in her career after graduating with an associate degree.
“All the technology at this internship was the same, and all the skills that I learned here [at Richland College] were immediately used from day one,” said Lee. “It helped me be able to shine in the job because I knew firsthand what was going on. So it was actually really seamless to go from Richland to my internship.”
While Iturbe and Lee are studying in different programs and have different goals, both of them, along with many other students, have benefited from the TAAACCCT grant and Richland College’s TEAM Center.
“Cisco [Iturbe] is a great example of someone who likes our program and can see a future for himself in it, and Monica [Lee] is also an example of the way that our students are able to transition into the workforce very quickly and very easily,” said Clayton. “As part of this community, which includes a very vibrant advanced manufacturing and electronics technology group of corporations and shops, we are pleased to be able to support them in this way.”
As a direct result of the grant, Richland College’s accomplishments to date include: 14,500 square feet of renovated space; $1.3 million worth of capital equipment and $400,000 worth of minor equipment, all installed and now operating since 2016; three additional faculty members and three additional staff members hired; two credit certificate and one continuing education certificate offerings added; 37 Associate of Applied Science degrees and 39 certificates in electronics and manufacturing awarded; 32 Associate of Applied Science degrees and 136 certificates in computer information technology awarded since that program’s inclusion in the grant; 292 students enrolled in electronics and manufacturing programs and 464 students in computer information technology programs in the 2018 spring semester; and 277 passed NIMS credentials in eight different credential exams. In addition, Richland College has also completed a cognitive task analysis and received new courseware for wire EDM, another common manufacturing process.
Even though the grant has ended, Richland College will continue to offer the curricula that were promised in the grant; offer credit for prior learning; add and replace additional equipment such as hydraulics, motor controls, modular assembly systems and programmable logic controllers; and will be adding new automation courses for aerospace, defense and communication needs.
Prior to installing the new equipment in the TEAM Center, Richland College donated all its previous, usable equipment to the Richardson Independent School District and the Garland Independent School District. Richland College also has technology-based early college high school programs with Dallas Independent School District’s Hillcrest High School and Emmett J. Conrad High School, giving high school students the opportunity to earn both their high school diploma and an Associate of Applied Science degree in just four years.
A recent event at Richland College celebrated these accomplishments and the student success that came as a direct result of the TAACCCT grant funds. At the event, Richardson mayor Paul Voelker spoke about the impact the grant had upon Richland College, and as a direct result, the impact of those workforce-ready students entering the local job force, specifically in Richardson’s Telecom Corridor.
“I’m keenly aware of what you’re doing here and the value added,” Voelker told the crowd. “It’s so important today that our employers know that their talent is here, and if it’s not here, we can create it here, or we can reinvent it here because we are always constantly learning.”
“Coming full-circle and seeing the advanced manufacturing capabilities that we can do right here, not only in the USA, but in north Texas, is pretty cool. We can compete with anybody in the world, at any level, because we have the talent and what it takes to make those businesses successful.”
For more information about Richland College’s School of Engineering and Technology or the TEAM Center, visit richlandcollege.edu/et.
The Richland College Technology, Engineering and Advanced Manufacturing (TEAM) Center had its grand opening yesterday, advancing the college’s mission of teaching, learning and community building. The new TEAM Center also addresses the need to contribute to the growth of the current and future Dallas economy by developing human capital success of key regional industries and employers.
With leading edge, industry-quality technology, the Richland College TEAM Center offers students hands-on learning experiences and delivers career-focused training leading to high-demand jobs in engineering, electrical engineering technology, electronics technology and advanced manufacturing.
Funding for the TEAM Center design, renovation and equipment was made possible through the $1.5 million portion of equipment funding provided by a $3.2 million Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training (TAACCCT) grant from the U.S. Department of Labor; more than $2.7 million from the Dallas County Community College District (DCCCD) Chancellor’s Career Ladder Funds; $1.6 million from Richland College’s institutional funds; and a gift of $500,000 from Texas Instruments Incorporated (TI) to fund the newly-redesigned electrical engineering technology programs at Richland, Eastfield and Mountain View colleges.
“The TEAM Center is fully equipped to provide students exceptional hands-on, industry-specific, degree-focused, problem-based learning experiences and career training with stackable industry-recognized certifications,” said Kathryn K. Eggleston, Ph.D., Richland College president.
President Eggleston and Dr. Joe May, DCCCD chancellor, presided at the open house and ribbon cutting, with special guests including Dr. Peter Balyta, president of Texas Instruments Education Technology, and Edgar Garcia, Workforce Development Specialist with the U.S. Department of Labor.
“The leadership of Dallas County Community College District Chancellor Dr. Joe May has been paramount in the success of the significant public-private partnerships necessary to make this TEAM Center possible,” said Eggleston. “Chancellor May is deeply committed to improving the Dallas economy by helping to grow middle-class jobs to jump start new economic investment and job creation.”
The TEAM Center was designed by Aaron Farmer, Yvette Jarvis and Fred Peña of Booziotis & Company Architects. Also involved in the design and construction process were David Boon and Ken Fulk, project engineers with Reed, Wells, Benson and Company; Jacob Williams, project manager, and Danny Purselley, project superintendent, with Byrne Construction Services; Judy Lembke, construction manager with Lemco Construction Services; and Clyde Porter, DCCCD associate vice chancellor/district architect, and Jean Hill, DCCCD project manager.
The advanced manufacturing program at Richland College prepares students for entry-level manufacturing positions through an associate degree, three certificates and two skills achievement awards. The electrical engineering technology degree and electronics technology degree prepare students for technician-level employment in semiconductor, electronics and related industries through an associate degree or a certificate.
Richland College will host an open house at 3 p.m. Apr. 21 to celebrate the grand opening of its new Technology, Engineering and Advanced Manufacturing (TEAM) Center, located in Wichita Hall.
With leading-edge, industry-quality technology, the TEAM Center at Richland College offers students hands-on learning experiences and delivers career-focused training leading to high-demand jobs in engineering, electrical engineering technology, electronics and advanced manufacturing.
The TEAM Center was made possible in part by a Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training (TAACCCT) grant from the U.S. Department of Labor. This $3.25 million grant equipped Richland College with the tools to train Texans who require new, up-to-date job skills for immediate employment. Additional funding for the TEAM Center was provided by Texas Instruments and Dallas County Community College District and Richland College funds.
“With TAACCCT funds, Richland College is strategically positioned to bridge critical gaps of two kinds: one between the workforce and specialized employment training, and the other between that workforce and local employer needs,” said Kathryn K. Eggleston, Ph.D., Richland College president.
President Eggleston and Joe D. May, Ed.D., Dallas County Community College District chancellor will preside at the open house and ribbon cutting. Attendees will have the chance to visit the advanced manufacturing lab, robotics lab and electronics labs, where the new equipment and student instructional demonstrations will be on display.
The advanced manufacturing program prepares students for entry-level manufacturing positions through an associate degree plan, certificate plan or two skills achievement awards. The electronics technology program prepares students for technician-level employment in electronics and related industries through an associate degree plan or a certificate plan.