Kurtfis fulfills career dream

Daniel Kurtfis | Special Appointment Computer ScienceKurtfis fulfills career dream

*This article was originally published in the Mount Mercy Times on Sept. 12, 2019 by Courtney Hoffman, campus editor.

After a long career of working in aircraft engineering, special appointment faculty member Dan Kurtfis has started fulfilling his retirement dream as a computer science professor.

Computer science is something that has attracted Kurtfis since he was a young teenager and he’s been a part of the field his whole life—he started working in 1980 as a computer technician.

That job evolved into computer programming, software engineering and then systems engineering, which is what Kurtfis has been doing for the last 17 years while working at Collins Aerospace.

Aircraft engineering just seemed to find him, and Kurtfis says his career is well-described as a series of shifts. He started out working for a small company in Las Vegas that went out of business. This ended up leading him into a whole new world working with government training systems for pilots at Nellis Air Force Base.

“After I was there a year and a half , hey transferred me to a Navy base in California, then to a facility in Colorado, then I found myself in New Jersey, then flying back to Las Vegas,” he said.

He moved to Iowa in 1995 looking for a new challenge and to grow and expand his skillset. That’s how he ended up working for Collins Aerospace.

“Each of those was a very different environment. These shifting environments are something I’ve grown accustomed to.”

Though he started college after his high school graduation, Kurtfis left after two years to go to work. Teaching, however, is something that has been a longtime goal of his to do in retirement.

He realized he had a passion for teaching when mentoring became a part of his job description. In order to achieve this goal, he knew he had to go back to school.

“I was at a point in my career where part of my responsibility was mentoring new engineers, and I was realizing that I was getting more personal satisfaction out of mentoring than from the actual engineering work,” Kurtfis said.

“I set a goal for myself to complete my education and get my masters degree so that I would be qualified to take on an adjunct responsibility in retirement.”

He went on to complete his masters at Iowa State last May after finishing his bachelor’s at Mount Mercy in 2008.

“So I got to know the campus, got to know some of the people, I enjoyed the environment, so this is the first place I went looking for opportunities to be an adjunct,” Kurtfis said.

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