Congratulations to Department Chair of Engineering, Robert Novak, who was named College of Western Idaho’s (CWI) Faculty of Distinction for January 2023.
Novak has been with the College for the last six years, where he has taught, and continues to teach, various Advanced Mechatronics Engineering Technology courses and leads the program.
His journey to CWI began after he finished high school, where he enrolled in a trade school and received the equivalent of an associate degree in Electronic Engineering Technology.
“It was this degree that launched my career and changed my life forever,” said Novak.
During Novak’s career outside of education, he was able to earn a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science, a Bachelor of Applied Science in Electronic Engineering and Technology, and a master’s in Human Resource Development — which were largely paid for by his employers.
Before joining the CWI community, Novak spent more than 25 years in the industry with his last 11 years as the Operations Engineer for the two W.M. Keck Observatory telescopes located atop a 14,000-foot dormant volcano on the Big Island of Hawaii. After a very rewarding, nearly three-decades-long career, Novak wanted to give back to students so they could share in the same career success he had.
“I get to help students have successful careers every day,” Novak said. “When looking back at my long career in the industry, nothing has brought me more personal and job satisfaction than working at CWI.”
Novak values student success and works diligently to help those who are struggling and want to quit his program stay motivated. He can list off many student stories where someone was overwhelmed with the course load or the thought of life working in the industry, but he was able to calm their nerves and push them to succeed and graduate. He keeps in touch with many of his former students, many of whom have gone on to very successful careers — which Novak has had a hand in placing some of them in those jobs.
Other faculty and staff around CWI have taken notice Novak’s hard work — especially over the course of the last six months as the College has partnered with Micron Technology, Inc.
“He has been working tirelessly behind the scenes to create a curriculum for a new and exciting program to create workers for the semiconductor industry,” said CWI Dean of Industry, Engineering, and Trades, Pat Neal. “He has had several meetings with Micron to make sure the new program will fit their needs. We can always rely on Robert to get the job done and it will be done right!”
Outside of CWI, Novak enjoys spending time with his wife, Terri. They have one son, who is still living in Hawaii. Novak and his wife love to spend time outdoors and go hiking, biking, or camping. Together, they also are raising Toyger cats.
One of Novak’s favorite hobbies is collecting and refurbishing World War II rifles. As a result of this hobby, he has gotten interested in reloading ammunition because it is hard to find factory loads for his rifles.