Giovanni Cisternino: A childhood of tinkering prepares grad for the trades
Giovanni Cisternino ’04 took his passion and found his purpose as a teacher in the manufacturing engineering field.
By Leila Goreil ‘13
Growing up, Giovanni Cisternino ‘04, had a knack for tinkering. He enjoyed understanding how all the pieces worked together in an object. His father, who worked in the manufacturing industry, fostered his son’s interest in taking things apart and putting them back together.
“As a kid, I took apart a brand-new chainsaw just to see how it worked and how it operated.” Giovanni recalls.
His youthful interests paired with his father’s influence put Giovanni on the path to pursue his postsecondary studies at Mohawk College in the Manufacturing Engineering Technician – Automation (Industrial Mechanic Millwright) program.
Giovanni took on a co-op at ArcelorMittal Dofasco, beginning as a millwright and then working to become a journeyman before transitioning to an equipment specialist. He graduated in 2004 and worked at Dofasco for 18 years.
During his last few years as an employee of Dofasco, Giovanni received a call from his former Mohawk College professor, Richard Dupp about a new part-time teaching position in the manufacturing engineering department. Giovanni applied and began his career as a new teacher for his alma mater.
With his many years of experience, his passion for the trades, and his unique skill set, Giovanni was excited to be back in the classroom.
“We try to be the best that we can be. We provide experiences on real equipment that the students will encounter during their apprenticeship work, and we provide relevant industry information. Our students are ready, professional, and confident.” - Giovanni Cisternino ‘04
“It is kind of cool to be back at Mohawk. I get to give back to the students and the trade program here,” he says.
Giovanni recognized that the opportunity to teach and advocate for the trades program—ensuring students are prepared, confident, and able to perform on the job after graduation—is what helped persuade him to apply for a full-time teaching opportunity at Mohawk College. The enjoyment that Giovanni had experienced teaching part-time, while also working at Dofasco, would now permit him to engage full-time as an educator.
In the classroom, Giovanni shares many experiences and stories of his time at Dofasco to provide real-life, relevant lessons to his students.
“I try to keep an open classroom [environment]. I encourage lots of questions and try to keep it low stress,” Giovanni shares. “Every time I’m in the class, I ask myself if the lessons and information are good enough for my students. I want the students to be safe, confident, and know what they have to do.”
With his passion for his work and his genuine interest in his students, Giovanni believes that Mohawk College is setting graduates up for success. “We try to be the best that we can be. We provide experiences on real equipment that the students will encounter during their apprenticeship work, and we provide relevant industry information. Our students are ready, professional, and confident,” he says.
When asked about the unique challenges or opportunities for his program, Giovanni shares that there are more jobs available than students graduating to fill the positions. Knowing that the trade industry has a challenge in terms of providing apprenticeship opportunities for new students, (most employers want at least one or two years of experience) Giovanni helps to ensure that his students take full advantage of Mohawk College’s student services. He encourages them to get help to build their resumes and encourages work opportunities throughout their studies.
Giovanni’s excitement for his work is seen every day in his classroom. His transition from student to professional to teacher has created an experienced, keen, and supportive faculty member for Mohawk College students.
This story originally appeared in the print issue of Fall 2022 InTouch magazine.
More Featured Alumni
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When work suddenly halted in the steel industry, Sam McIlroy ‘94 pivoted to a new path of education that opened the door to a new career path.