They're called technology evangelists, those who trumpet benefits and trends in the Digital Age without the need of a fire-and-brimstone app.
Anne Arundel Community College adjunct professor Travis Bonfigli is a self-proclaimed technology evangelist. You need not know the Crofton resident's credentials to gauge his knowledge and passion for computers — particularly all things wireless — and his penchant for conveying complex technological jargon with a "Hooked on Phonics" simplicity.
But his credentials are impressive. Certified Wireless Network Professional, a certification program for the IT industry, recently conveyed upon Bonfigli the designation of certified wireless network expert — the highest certification in the program.
Officials say Bonfigli is the 131st person in the world to earn the credential. Those who reach the milestone have mastered the ability to design, install, configure and troubleshoot wireless network systems, and are considered among the industry elite.
Still, Bonfigli, 44, may covet that "technology evangelist" label even more.
"A technology evangelist is somebody promoting technology, someone excited about technology, and someone that just has a love for it," said Bonfigli, who works as team leader at Force 3, a Crofton-based information technology solutions and services company. "It's one of those terms that made me say, 'Yeah, that applies to me.' "
As an instructor at the community college, Bonfigli has taught UNIX, Linux, networking essentials and Cisco technologies.
"As an adjunct, it's a great opportunity to talk to students, especially young students," Bonfigli said. "Especially with the younger students, there's this misconception that, 'Oh yeah, I want to get into computers,' but the field is so broad.
"Trying to inspire the students into a certain field they're going to enjoy is one of the things that I really like," he said.
Bonfigli ventured toward technology in 1988, shortly after graduating from high school, after his grandmother gave him a Commodore 64 computer for his birthday. He joined the Army the following year as a Spanish linguist but instead was steered toward learning about UNIX.
He was initially stationed in San Antonio, then headed to Fort Meade, where he was mentored by industry professionals including Michael Batterden of Annapolis, a systems engineer and computer scientist who currently works as a defense contractor.
"I could tell right away that he had that 'it' factor to be successful in whatever he pursued," Batterden said of Bonfigli. "His … certification is a tribute to his dedication and work ethic."
Bonfigli enrolled at Anne Arundel Community College during his Army stint and finished up at University of Maryland, College Park. He first taught at the community college from 1999 to 2004 and, after a brief period away while working in the corporate sector, returned two years ago. He said he's happy to work with students who are as eager to learn about technology as he once was.
"I get to talk to them about what's coming down the road or on the horizon from a technology perspective," Bonfigli said.
Now that he has gained top-shelf status on the Certified Wireless Network Professional program, he said he will pursue other certifications.
"I'm a huge fan of what they call the growth mindset, which is never being satisfied with where you're at and always looking to improve your knowledge and understanding," Bonfigli said. "There's always room for improvement."