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IVC Electrical Engineering Professor Massimo Mitolo Earns Knighthood Feature Story
Irvine Valley College professor Massimo Mitolo’s expertise in science and engineering is so extensive that in 2021 it earned him Knighthood in the Order of Merit of the Italian Republic. But before Italy’s prime minister was recommending Mitolo for his country’s highest honor, he was just a boy watching his father, a dean of engineering, teach physics at a local university. Later, after developing an early passion for electrical systems, he knew he wanted to encourage others to learn more about the field.
“I had this burning desire to study, research, and talk about the industry, so teaching was the perfect fit for me,” says Mitolo, a professor of electrical engineering who teaches in IVC’s Electrical Technology and Electronic Technology departments.
In 2020, Mitolo’s exceptional contributions to the scientific study of electrical and electronics technology caught the attention of the President of the Italian Republic. A year later, he would earn Knighthood in the Italian Order of Merit, a rare honor given for “merit acquired by the nation” in the fields of literature, arts, economics, public service, philanthropic and humanitarian activities, as well as extensive and significant service in civilian and military careers.
In addition to being a registered professional engineer in the state of California, Mitolo is the author of over 170 papers, four books, and the recipient of countless awards including the 2013 James E. Ballinger “Engineer of the Year Award” from the Orange County Engineering Council. These accomplishments have earned the distinguished title of fellow at both the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), the world’s largest professional organization dedicated to electrical and electronics technology and the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET), which is based in the United Kingdom.
Mitolo believes engineers and technicians help keep our world running. From the tiny microchips inside of our cell phones to the electrical systems inside of airplanes and cars, engineers not only create these devices, but they ensure they keep operating smoothly for years to come.
Irvine Valley College’s electrical and electronics departments equip students to work in electronics-related fields, emphasizing wiring systems, solar systems, and safety. With instructors who are working professionals, students get the state-of-the-art education of a four-year university at a fraction of the cost. In addition, students learn in-demand skills on industry-standard equipment to prepare for long-term careers. Additionally, a free dual enrollment program is available to high school students who want to get started and earn college credit.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, California employs more electrical engineers than any other state in the country and the field is expected to grow by 7% through 2030. As opportunities grow across the country and region, Mitolo wants students interested in electrical safety to know there are a variety of career paths available and plenty of caring mentors at IVC to support them along the way.
“The workforce needs people with electronics skills,” Mitolo explains. “In the future, everything will be automated, including autonomous cars, and it doesn’t stop there.”
Mitolo enjoys teaching students how to break down complex concepts into practical ideas.
IVC’s electrical and electronic technology programs prepare students to master the art of critical thinking and apply technology to solve problems. In Mitolo’s experience, students with career-focused training have a better understanding of fundamental concepts and can adapt to real-world issues quicker. With this in mind, he teaches students to have an open mind rather than one that is filled with concrete “notions.”
“I believe notions can become obsolete, especially if you stick with them, you could fail— but if you have an open mind and critical thinking skills, you will never fail,” Mitolo explains.
During the pandemic, Mitolo (along with his department) used his own problem-solving skills to adapt to the challenges of online learning. The college transitioned to online classes and expanded training to offer more theory and virtual labs. In addition, Mitolo introduced critical thinking simulations to his students, who have free access to platforms online at Tinkercad and MultiSim, where they can design circuits and create prototypes with emerging software and technology.
“Students have the opportunity to create or repeat experiments at home whenever they’d like to understand new concepts,” Mitolo says.
Career opportunities in electrical safety engineering are booming across Orange County, and Mitolo is proud of the way IVC’s programs are helping students fast-track their careers in the field.
“I hope we can continue to raise awareness to the students in Orange County,” says Mitolo, “our students want to build new skills, and we can offer them hands-on instruction.”
For more information about Irvine Valley College’s School of Integrated Design, Engineering, and Automation and its programs of study, please visit https://www.ivc.edu/idea.