Kyle Keefauver

April 4, 2022

ICC Class of 1991 (Manufacturing Engineering Technology)

Transferred to Bradley University

Mechanical Technology Instructor, Illinois Central College

Tell us about the career path that led you to your current job.

During my last semester at ICC, one of my professors told me about a company in Pekin looking for lathe operators. I needed a job (just about to get married and set up a household) so I checked it out. Got hired and was allowed to finish out the semester and complete my degree while working 30 plus hours. After that, I went full time and spent the next 28 years working my way through the company through many different roles. I was given a lot of opportunities throughout my career there, from lathe operator to ultimately the Manufacturing Engineering Manager.

For the last 12 plus years of my time at Excel, I had a desire build to take on a teaching role of some sort as it related to the field in which I had worked for so long. I had reached a level in the company that I was content to stay at for the rest of my time there, but still felt the pull to try something new. That something being teaching. The opportunity came up to teach in the program that I had used to launch my career and what I had spent most of my career doing came up. So, I took it. It has been one of the most challenging tasks I’ve taken on to transition from industry to academia. Most challenging, but I have to say overall most enjoyable.

How did ICC shape your future or help you attain your professional goals?

The Manufacturing Eng degree introduced me to a wide range of manufacturing processes that helped build the foundation for a long and prosperous career in manufacturing.

What does it mean to you to be able to teach at ICC and educate future ICC alumni?

It is a great feeling to be able to help shape the minds of folks that are wanting to get into manufacturing. For a long time, we had kind of placed manufacturing in a not-so-great light. We had abandoned teaching students basic shop skills in high schools, which has been felt by manufacturing firms in the area. We are starting to see a resurgence in the need to train skilled workers in every aspect of manufacturing. It is a good if not great career where you can earn a life sustaining income and make advances within companies. I’m just glad to have a small part of helping teach the new generation of students going into this field.

What advice would you give current students at ICC to succeed?

I know it will sound old fashioned and like a canned response, but it still holds true. Work hard. Strive to be the best at what you are doing no matter what the job is.