The student news site of El Camino College

El Camino College The Union

The student news site of El Camino College

El Camino College The Union

The student news site of El Camino College

El Camino College The Union

Building a home at El Camino: Architecture professor, alum shares his journey

From left to right: El Camino College architecture professors Marc Yeber, Reuben Jacobs and Dan Richardson in the Industry Technology Education Center on Thursday, May 23. “Working with Dan and Marc has been a great experience, we have a lot of synergy and learn from each other,” Jacobs said. (Joseph Ramirez | The Union)

When Dan Richardson enrolled at El Camino College in the 1960s, he did not expect to become a full-time professor at the college decades later.

“I never thought I was going to become a full-time instructor,” Richardson, 73, associate professor of architecture and environmental technology, said.

Richardson’s interest in architecture began at nine years old.

“My father was a fireman and during the summers he worked with friends on building housing projects and I would join him in these building projects,” he said.

After graduating high school, Richardson enrolled at El Camino and studied architecture under former professor Albert Palmer. After graduating from El Camino, Richardson went into full-time work.

“I worked with other architects and engineers for the past 52 years, mostly planning and building single family homes,” he said.

Richardson reconnected again with El Camino in 1981 when he became part of an advisory board related to architecture and interacted with El Camino students. Richardson served on this board for 15 years.

“I was pressured by El Camino College to come teach architecture during those 15 years and eventually I decided to do it,” Richardson said.

He started working at El Camino as a part-time instructor in 1996 and became a full-time professor in 1999.

Today, Richardson teaches architecture classes along with fellow professors Reuben Jacobs and Marc Yeber.

Jacobs taught at El Camino from 1994 to 1999 and returned in 2018. Yeber started teaching in 2020.

“I had never taught before El Camino College and I decided to give it a try after I was looking at summer programs for my son in 2019 and heard the college had teaching positions,” Yeber said.

Yeber, a Florida native, said his grandfather Leroy Warner was an architect who worked in Washington D.C. several times, and would bring Yeber along on his projects. His grandfather taught him architecture.

“We work over and beyond here in the architecture program, and I wouldn’t have gotten as far as I am without Dan,” Yeber said.

Jacobs, also part of the team, has a longer history working with Richardson.

“Working with Dan and Marc has been a great experience, we have a lot of synergy and learn from each other,” Jacobs said.

Many of Richardson’s students said positive things about him and his classes.

“Dan is a great and understanding teacher who makes sure you are doing your best even on a day when you don’t feel productive,” Karla Bonilla, 21, said.

Obed Duran, 19, is taking Richardson’s classes during his second year in the architecture program.

“Dan is a great teacher and strict too; you have to make sure to do your work,” Duran said.

Richardson has a large family, including several children and grandchildren.

“My kids decided to not go into architecture but to work as graphic designers,” he said.

Richardson said many economic factors including inflation, interest rates and supply chain issues are affecting today’s construction industry.

“The interest rate situation has stymied the building scene along with higher cost in materials; however, our students will still be on the higher end and there will always be employment opportunities for architects,” he said.

Even after many years of teaching, Richardson said he is always learning new things. In addition to all the new technology that continues to change, students also provide learning lessons, he said.

“I am learning from my students as I teach them,” Richardson said.

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