New executive dean named

Dr. Raghunath Kanakala is the new executive of Engineering and Technology at Richland. His credentials include academic stature in the fields of manufacturing, electrical engineering and various other technical fields. Previously, Kanakala was dean of technical education at Aiken Technical College in South Carolina. He began his position with Richland this semester.

While at Aiken Technical College, Kanakala served as dean of technical education. He oversaw 12 program areas including industrial maintenance, electrical technology, radiation protection, nuclear fundamentals, physics and chemistry. Prior to his work at Aiken, he served as an assistant professor, working as a research scientist and lecturer at the University of Idaho, Idaho Falls College of Engineering.

Richland was of interest to Kanakala for several reasons.

“I researched the college and looked up the profile and everything and what made me very interested, there were many things, but some of them are the Baldrige Award,” Kanakala said.

In 2005, Richland College won the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award. It’s the nation’s highest honor for performance excellence in education.

Kanakala was also impressed with the articulation agreements between the college and partner universities, and the number of students who are pursuing technical degrees, including advanced manufacturing degrees, at Richland.

“Community college level labs of that kind of show SMI [Scholastic Math Inventory testing],” he said.

Kanakala was impressed by the commitment Richland has toward developing the program and the sincerity put into student success.

“If you go see the advanced manufacturing lab for the number of classes that can be done in there, we can run by half of that equipment that the management invested because the students have better access to the state-of-the-art technology and they can personally work,” he said. Kanakala liked how the school invested money in student success for STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) degrees.

Kanakala’s academic leadership credentials include management of a $2.5 million individual safety training program to train and place low-skilled workers.

Kanakala said the biggest challenge he sees in the technical field is to have credentialed faculty. Kanakala said highly skilled faculty members could possibly find a job in the field and make twice as much money. He was impressed that the professors, staff and tutors at Richland are available to help and support the students.

That is what Kanakala is all about: building up student success and making sure they have the tools for their careers ahead.

“We have programs where you can actually come take the program and once you are done. It is like before and after pictures,” Kanakala said.

One of his goals for the semester and year is to increase the skill level of engineering and manufacturing students and work to develop transfer degrees to help students prepare for a university.