Chances are, you’ve heard of the “KISS” acronym. Martin Kohl adheres to this principle for teaching, but changes one key word: “keep it simple, silly.”
“Boil it down until it’s simple,” says Kohl. “Make something that’s very complex very simple in a fun environment.”
Taking this concept a step further, Kohl also wants to ensure students feel comfortable coming to him with questions. It’s this welcoming attitude that draws graduates back, popping in to say “hi” and celebrate their accomplishments.
“I have a lot of successful students out in industry,” says Kohl. “They work for smaller companies doing mobile development. They’re working in high security areas, where they can’t even tell me what they do.”
Kohl’s own Macomb success story began in the early ‘80s, when he came to the college to pursue a degree in Computer Numerical Control (CNC) machining, which was “the closest thing I could get to computers and manufacturing.” He followed this up with bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Industrial Engineering from Wayne State University.
Kohl spent his early career serving in an Information Technology (IT) capacity for large scale companies, including Electronic Data Systems, K-Mart and Blue Cross, Blue Shield. Concurrently, he also taught at Macomb as an adjunct professor for more than 10 years, with his sights set on full-time work. After more than 20 years in the industry, he was offered the chance to make the switch to higher education and has “been loving every single minute of it.”
It should come as no surprise that Kohl found his calling through teaching programming. In his own words, “I love computers. I love programming computers. And, I love the students.”
Learning to like and adapt to change is an important part of working in the IT realm, and Kohl finds it exciting to see the amazing strides being made in technology. Singling out the cell phone as an example, he cited that the first model cost $5,000 and was essentially a “suitcase on wheels.” They now have more power than “the first rocket that went up into space,” and are even taking the place of point-and-shoot cameras.
“And, it’s a phone!” exclaims Kohl. “Share! Email! Save! Print!”
New for the 2018-19 academic year, Kohl and Professor Jackie Wanner teamed up to share their love of technology by starting a makerspace at Macomb. Using funds awarded through a college Innovation Award, the duo purchased a bevy of fun and innovative gadgets, including Raspberry Pi kits, a 3D printer and virtual reality (VR) goggles. Now in its second semester, the makerspace offers flexible hours to anybody who would like to experiment with technology and let their imagination run wild.
Whether stopping by the makerspace or taking an IT class, Kohl encourages students to “stay hungry and keep learning.” And, Macomb provides the perfect atmosphere for this.
“It’s a really good school for students straight out of high school,” says Kohl. “You can save tens of thousands of dollars coming here before you transfer.”