Joe Capitanio has seen some wild things at UNF since starting in 1972. Would you believe a cougar roaming the outskirts of campus or an alligator which decided to check out some of the buildings?
When UNF first opened it was a wilderness area with no commercial or residential development for miles around. The wildlife was abundant. Capitanio recalls an incident involving a 5-foot alligator which was discovered taking a stroll between Buildings 3 and 4 one day. "The police came over and looked at it and weren't sure how to handle it. Finally, one officer used a long stick to keep its jaw closed and the other taped it and they dragged it by the tail to a wooded area. He (the alligator) wasn't happy. It hissed, twisted and fought them all the way," Capitanio says.
Wild things have happened in the world of technology as well since Capitanio started at UNF. The Pennsylvania native came to UNF after being discharged in 1972 from the Navy where he had been stationed at Mayport. He had been an electronic technician in the Navy and applied for a similar position at UNF working with Jack Funkhouser in Instructional Communications. "I was attracted to UNF because it was new. I always wanted to work in a college setting."
Capitanio did electronic repair work at UNF for about four years when he applied for a position in the Division of Technology as a laboratory manager. There he supervised students in a full machine shop which was then part of a program leading to a bachelor's degree in technologies.
He remained in that position until 1987 when he was transferred to the College of Education and Human Services where he is now the laboratory manager of the Education Technology Center. It's a job that involves everything from teaching education students about technology to repairing computers in the college. It's also a busy job. Last semester alone, more than 2,200 students used the services of the lab.
In addition to helping students, Capitanio also helps education faculty with technology projects both at UNF and in area schools.
Capitanio remains excited about changes in technology on the horizon. He's part of a distance learning tutoring program which he predicts will be the wave of the future. "Kids get excited about working with computers and I get excited with them," he says.