A pair of Kansas State University Polytechnic faculty members have been honored.
According to the school, Troy Harding has been named the recipient of the 2017 Rex McArthur Family Faculty Fellow Award and Bill Gross has been named the 2017 Marchbanks Memorial Award for Teaching Excellence recipient.
Troy Harding, computer systems technology professor at Kansas State University Polytechnic Campus, has been named the recipient of the 2017 Rex McArthur Family Faculty Fellow Award.
The McArthur distinction annually recognizes a Kansas State Polytechnic professor for teaching excellence, a commitment to research and honorable services to the university, college and community.
Harding grew up as the son of two educators. Although following the path of his parents was not his original intention, he discovered an interest in computers in high school when he helped program the school’s two new computers. This interest led him to double major in computer science and chemistry at Bethany College.
A professor at Kansas State Polytechnic since 1999, Harding has taught classes in programming, system and data administration, web development and IT support. He also created a class on the development of mobile apps after researching the topic for the university.
Harding is a favorite professor at Kansas State Polytechnic, consistently receiving high teaching evaluations from students. On campus, he pushes students to learn beyond their comfort zone, provides mentorship to fellow faculty, serves the campus on numerous committees and collaborates with fellow faculty on publications about advances in the computer systems technology program. Outside of the office, Harding gives his time to K-12 outreach via summer camp offerings and teaches computer systems classes at the local high school.
“Faculty members at Kansas State Polytechnic are truly focused on the success of students — we feel rewarded when our students do well,” Harding said. “I am amazed at my colleagues’ dedication to our students. A big reason for that dedication is that Kansas State Polytechnic provides a student-focused learning environment in which both students and educators can thrive. We certainly challenge our students by having them apply what they are learning to real projects, but their curiosity and energy challenge us to stay current with technology and keep learning ourselves. It is amazing how much I learn from them.
“I feel very blessed to have had the opportunity to work here for so long,” he said.
Bill Gross, Kansas State University Polytechnic Campus aviation professor and a certified master flight instructor, has been named the 2017 Marchbanks Memorial Award for Teaching Excellence recipient.
The award was established more than 30 years ago to commemorate a faculty member’s commitment in the classroom, service to students and overall merit as a teacher.
Growing up on a farm in the Garden City area led Gross down the natural career path of pursuing an animal science and ag education degree at Kansas State University in Manhattan. But Gross just couldn’t forget his childhood days of accompanying his best friend’s father up in his plane. After teaching high school vocational agriculture for a few years, Gross and his wife decided he should get his flight instructor rating. That decision led to a career educating and mentoring future pilots at Kansas State Polytechnic.
Gross has been a professor with Kansas State Polytechnic since fall 1987 when it was called the Kansas Technical Institute and then briefly the Kansas College of Technology. Currently, he is the chief flight instructor, overseeing 30-40 flight instructors and classroom instruction, and providing aviation transportation for university faculty and staff.
Throughout his time at Kansas State Polytechnic, Gross has taught almost every course in the program. Students in his classes learn much more than what comes from a textbook; they learn what it means to be a professional. Gross has high expectations of his students, including arriving to class on time dressed professionally. He knows his students will be well-prepared for future careers if they begin these practices in college.
Gross is an enthusiastic supporter of the aviation industry, and especially aviation at Kansas State Polytechnic. His experience and passion for aviation are evident throughout the program, producing graduates in high demand as corporate and airline pilots.
“It is a great honor to be awarded the Marchbanks award,” Gross said. “I have truly enjoyed my time at Kansas State Polytechnic over the past 30 years. This has given me the opportunity to teach and mentor many students who have become professional airline pilots, corporate pilots and military and air traffic controllers around the world.”
Story by: Julee Cobb