Ever since Dr. Joshua Carl began his teaching career at MSOE in 2015, he says he’s tried to regularly place himself in the shoes of his students.   

“It’s easy as a professor to forget where the students are both in terms of their knowledge and what else is going on in their lives,” he said. “I really try to be careful and keep a focus on how to get the students from where they are now to where they need to go.”    

It helps that the electrical engineering professor was an MSOE student himself not so long ago. “I point that out to students on day one,” he said. “I tell them, ‘I know what you’re going through. I know it gets hard, but you can make it through.’”    

Carl came from Waukegan, Illinois, to study computer engineering at MSOE in the early 2000s. At the back of his mind, he thought teaching might be an option somewhere in the future. After graduation, he went to work for Epic Systems in Madison, and soon realized it wasn’t the best fit.    

“Epic was a purely software company,” Carl said, “I really wanted to do something that had at least a little bit of hardware in it.” 

After five years, he went go back to school and earned both a master’s degree and a doctorate in electrical engineering from Vanderbilt University.    

“I defended my Ph.D. on a Friday afternoon, and then the following Tuesday, I started at MSOE.” Maybe a little bit of a break would have been nice, Carl mused, but he was looking forward to teaching.    

Along with his faculty position, Carl has also been able to keep a toe in industry waters. While interviewing for the MSOE position, Carl caught the attention of an adjunct professor who offered him a spot on his team at Johnson Controls.    

“In industry, we’re cutting edge. We push the limits of what we can do with technology in a few key areas,” said Carl. “I read research papers, I figure out new ways to do complicated things, and that engages my mind in a different way than when I’m teaching students fundamentals.”     

Carl said his job at Johnson Controls also helps him relate to students who are going into industry and help prepare them for what they’re going to face.      

As a CREATE Faculty Fellow, Carl would also like to help prepare students with more opportunities to work on interdisciplinary teams. "In industry, almost all their products teams are going to be multi-disciplinary,” said Carl. “They’re all going to be working together to produce a product or to solve some problem, and if we get them that exposure in school, that will better prepare them for what they’re going to do in the future.”    

Carl lives in Port Washington, Wisconsin with his wife and four children: three boys and one girl, ages 7 and under. “They keep me busy,” he said. “When I’m not working, I’m pretty much helping to keep the house from exploding.”    

They try to find outdoor activities to do as a family, he said: strawberry picking in the summer, apple picking in the fall, as well as biking and fishing.