Michael Kuhlmann '69 (Electrical & Electronic Engineering)

Alumnus honored for his success and community contributions

Michael Kuhlmann
Two decades after starting a business that is now booming, Michael Kuhlmann is as busy as ever, but that’s just fine with him.

“You’re doing what you love, what you’re passionate about,” says Kuhlmann, the founder and president of Residential Control Systems, Inc. and RCS Technology. “On the other hand, the job’s never done. You’re knee-deep in it constantly and it’s an all-consuming passion. But I enjoy working with customers and being recognized in the community.”

In 2013, Kuhlmann was recognized with a Distinguished Alumni Award by Sacramento State for his success as a business owner and his contributions to the community. Kuhlmann won both the Sacramento Regional Technology Alliance/CleanStart Innovator of the Year award and SMUD’s Capstone Award for Powering Innovation.

Kuhlmann was focused on his career goals from the time he began at Sac State as a freshman and the University fostered his ambition.

“I thought it was a great school for engineering,” Kuhlmann says. “I enjoyed the program immensely and had a good experience with good teachers. I landed my first job while I was at Sac State and I’ve continued with the school of engineering, working with them to promote employment in the area.”

Kuhlmann’s professional career began at McClellan Air Force Base, where he, “worked on everything from aircraft to commander control systems to computers,” he says. His degree along with a broad range of experience, led him to start his own business in 1993.

Kuhlmann was interested in developing residential electronics systems that offered comfort, convenience and control, but the emphasis turned to energy conservation over the past decade.

“The focus re-emerged as energy efficiency—connecting products and making them energy-aware,” says Kuhlmann, who has around 30 employees between the main RCS office in Sacramento and a satellite office in San Diego. “It was a natural evolution. Green energy is a market that’s really seeking out those products.”

He’s maintained a strong relationship with the Department of Electrical and Electronic Engineering, utilizing Sac State students as interns, and eventually employees. He has also collaborated with faculty and students on the California Smart Grid Project.

“The engineering group has continued to innovate both the curriculum and job development,” Kuhlmann says. “I was awarded the honor of working on the Smart Grid Center and Sac State has developed a curriculum around that. They’re producing ready-made grads for the smart grid and green power industries.”