As an avid biker, photographer, full-stack developer, entrepreneur, and piano player, describing Chris Reynolds as a “multipotentialite” would be an understatement.
Bearing a passion for the arts and aesthetics — plus the unequivocal logic of math and science — the entrepreneur is creating his ideal career model with help from Irvine Valley College.
Even though the Irvine-native didn’t attend IVC until later in life, he always had the college in the back of his mind.
“Coincidentally enough, I first attended IVC during the summer between freshman and sophomore year while still in high school,” explains Reynolds. “That initial college experience at IVC was good … as it exposed me to the expectations and workload of a college course.”
Having experienced a taste of the college life, Reynolds finished high school and embarked 200 miles north to San Luis Obispo to attend the mechanical engineering program at Cal Poly. After three years in the program, Reynolds decided to pivot his career path to focus on something that combined his creativity, practicality, and meticulous attention to detail.
“I found I was more interested in studying an iterative design methodology, where function and aesthetics counted first,” reflects the passionate student. “Engineering was taught to come after the design is completed, where the parameter of cost typically counts most, even to the point of excluding aesthetics and function.”
With a clear vision for his career, Reynolds left San Luis Obispo and enrolled in an industrial design program at San Francisco State University, where he graduated with a BA in industrial design and industrial arts, along with a BS in business administration. The timing for job prospects “wasn’t great,” he admits, but he was able to secure an interview with an Irvine-based engineering company.
“The company I started with was looking for someone to make models with Solidworks,” Reynolds explains, referring to a 3D modeling program common to both engineering and design. “Though I was no engineer, and this [company] was no product design studio, I was competent with the software from various school projects. Mutual compromises were made on both sides, and I joined as a junior engineer.”
For eight years, Reynolds stuck with the engineering company and by the time the business dissolved in 2014, he was serving as Director of Development and Operations. Once the company disbanded, Reynolds entrepreneurial spirit came calling — and finally, he was ready to answer.
“I started my own firm … the first customer being a carryover from the engineering company,” says Reynolds. “I was able to continue supplying and providing support for the existing systems in the field, and I’ve learned a considerable amount of how this specific system was designed, and more importantly, how to fix it.”
As the company expanded, Reynolds realized that his skill set would have to do the same. With a thorough understanding of the industry, combined with essential higher education, Reynolds knew he could accomplish even more. That’s when he enrolled at Irvine Valley College to pursue an associate degree in engineering.
The program – particularly the electrical technology courses – would provide essential insight in connecting theory to practical application for the double-threat student. Reynolds says the subject opened up a new world of creativity, which only expanded as he learned more.
“Whether in miniature embedded devices, or continent-spanning distribution grids, the design is all around us,” reflects the steadfast student.
Reynolds’ unique passion for the material did not go unnoticed. According to Irvine Valley College electrical technology professor Massimo Mitolo, his student’s dedication and drive for the coursework made him stand out immediately.
“He thinks critically and asks questions to deepen his understanding,” explains the proud professor. “He is driven by a passion for electrical technology and engineering, which are crucial for the energy transition that our society is facing.”
With California determined to achieve 85 percent clean electricity by 2030, job prospects in this sector are shining. In adding this versatile skill to his toolbelt, Reynolds now has all the tools he needs to thrive in the industrial design industry.
Nevertheless, Reynolds plans to earn his AS in engineering at Irvine Valley College, followed by an MA in electrical engineering from California State University, Fullerton this fall. The versatile visionary says every experience in his career guided him to the opportunities he has today, and he hopes to continue to develop and grow professionally.
“This has led me to continue my education in pursuit of greater professional understanding, adding more tools to my design-problem-solving toolbox taking courses as outside obligations allow.”
Find a full list of Reynolds’ work on his website www.cheynolds.com.