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Massimo Mitolo, Professor of Electrical Engineering

Massimo wanted to be an electrical engineer from an early age, playing with electrical sets when he was a child, soaking up all there was to know about electronic circuits and the crucial role that electrical engineers have in our daily lives. Massimo managed to achieve his dream and now works tirelessly to teach the next generation, allowing them to understand challenging concepts and maximise their potential. 

Age: 53

Job title: Professor of Electrical Engineering, School of Integrated Design, Engineering and Automation

Company employed by: Irvine Valley College, Irvine, California, USA

When you were a child, what did you dream you’d be when you grew up?
Electrical Engineer, always!

What is the biggest impact your work will or could have in the future?
My goal is to make electrical systems safer-by-design, and therefore decrease the effects of accidents on persons, limit fatalities and prevent failures of systems. Provide engineering criteria to accomplish this goal would have a great and positive impact on our lives.

What excites you most about STEM?
Engineers are problem solvers, “solutionists”. We analyze a problem, come to a conclusion, and develop a solution. There are no jobs more exciting than this!

What do you love about your job? What would you change?
I could not live without electrical engineering, therefore I have no choice but love everything about my job. Can I just say that I would change (and double) my annual income?

What gives you the most job satisfaction?
Understanding things! And teaching students: the moments when challenging concepts click in their minds are priceless!

What does a typical day at work involve?
Studying in the morning and working on papers for conferences, attending faculty meetings, lecturing in EE courses, advising students, consulting on projects, studying again, repeat.

What’s the most unexpected thing about your job?
I am always surprised when the international community shows an interest in my research!

Did you have any role models when you were younger? What inspired you to do the job you’re doing now?
A fascination and an insatiable thirst for electronics, fuelled by a correspondence course in radio electronics during high school, which showed me that apparently impenetrable electronic circuits could be indeed understood.

Any influential toys during childhood?
Lego, Erector set, Electrical set.

Your favourite subjects at school?
Physics, Philosophy, Mathematics.

Qualifications (school/college/university):
A-levels: Maths, Physics, Philosophy, Latin, ancient Greek; Ph.D. electronic engineering with thesis on the performance of D-RAM memories.

Your reason for choosing this career?
Since I was ten, I felt compelled to pursue a career as an electrical engineer and as a professor. You may say that I had no choice for my career choice!

Tell me about your career path to date?
Ph.D in Electronic Engineering; Professional engineer license; Associate engineer; Lecturer Electronic Engineering; Senior Principal (Electrical); Head of the Electrical Department of MEP consulting firm; Advisory Engineer (power systems) for multinational corporation; Senior Consultant in failure analysis for a corporation; Professor of Electrical Engineering at IVC; Deputy Editor-in-Chief of the IEEE Transactions on Industry Applications; Fellow of the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET); Fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE).

If you could have any job what would it be? How does it differ from what you’re doing?
Being a professor and a consultant is exactly the job that I want!

Your advice to a young person considering a career in STEM?
STEM professionals have the power to make a difference in the lives of others, break new ground, and always count on job security, even in times of uncertainty.