Joseph Karl ’17, a technology project management graduate student, would “rather focus on what is most important” like his wife, family, and his education. He attended Illinois Central College to learn about Pro-E as computer-aided design. Joseph earned his associate’s degree in Computer Integrated Machining Technology from the Rochester Institute of Technology before coming to Illinois State University to pursue a bachelor’s degree in engineering technology. Joseph has a passion for being creative, building, and analyzing any mechanical related projects. He is interested in a wide variety of engineering related skills and concepts including robotics, electrical, machining, computer-aided design, plastic injection, quality, project management, and programmable logic controllers. Because of this, engineering technology was a good fit for him. Joseph came to Illinois State University because liked the Engineering Technology program, it was close to home in Peoria, and ISU provided support through interpreters and captioning.
For over nine years, Karl worked at Performance Pattern and Machine, Inc. in Peoria as a quality manager. In this role, he ensured that PPM’s machine parts were in compliance with International Organization for Standardization (ISO). He inspected the parts by utilizing the coordinate measuring machine (CMM) and communicated with PPM’s clients via emails or video phone calls to make sure clients’ needs were met. Once, a customer called because their building line was down due to an issue with a PPM product. Karl and his colleagues stayed up all night to run the machine and redo the customer’s machine parts. Karl inspected the parts before they were delivered to the customer the next morning.
Jeritt Williams, an engineering technology faculty member noted, “Joseph Karl worked well with other engineering technology students. He was always very pleasant, laid back, and came to class ready to take on any challenge with a great sense of humor.”
Last spring, when asked about his experiences in the Department of Technology, Karl wrote “Very good! Students can be involved in a variety of programs so they can decide which career they want.” The rest of the story is Karl was born deaf in Peoria, Illinois. He grew up in Fairbanks, Alaska, where he enjoyed the cold weather and outdoor activities. He has a wife and three children. Two of three children are deaf. His father was his greatest role model. He followed his father everywhere and even stayed at his work during summer break when he was a little kid. His father wanted and encouraged Karl to become a successful person. His wife has encouraged him to study hard. Karl took her advice to heart and has been rewarded with good grades.
Student Access and Accommodation Services provides sign language interpreters to assist deaf students at Illinois State University. The interpreters attend classes and advisement meetings with deaf students.
“Joe’s pleasant and easy-going demeanor makes it a pleasure to work with him.” Maggie Snell, senior staff interpreter
Karl wrote “My interpreters were very supportive to help me out to understand in the engineering technology classes. They were my teachers’ and classmates’ voices. Without their assistance, I would not be able to understand classes or get a good grade for any classes. Sometimes, my interpreters were concerned that they had to stand too close to the machines such as robots, CNC machines, and injection mold machines as they were interpreting. Occasionally, when my interpreters could not hear a professor’s voice due to foreign accent, echo, or noise in class, I had a difficult time to understand what the teacher was trying to say. To solve the issue, my interpreters had to move closer to the professor or ask him/her to say again. In addition, since English is not my first language, I sometimes struggle to read a textbook. I had to research the meaning of difficult vocabulary words in the textbook, while I was studying.”
“It is important for faculty, staff, and other students to be aware that being deaf is not different from not being deaf. The deaf can do anything but hear and can be successful with passion and desire.” Joseph Karl ’17
Being deaf does not define or limit Joseph Karl. His can-do positive attitude, motivation, and determination to succeed are inspiring.