Kansas State University Salina computer systems technology professor Troy Harding has been named the recipient of the college’s prestigious Marchbanks Memorial Award for Teaching Excellence for the 2013-2014 school year.
The honor was given to Harding after he was nominated by his faculty peers and letters of recommendation were written on his behalf to the deciding advisory committee. The award was established more than 30 years ago by the Marchbanks family to annually recognize a K-State Salina faculty member’s commitment in the classroom, service to students and overall merit as a teacher.
Harding, a professor at K-State Salina since 1999, grew up in Abilene as the son of two educators. What might seem like a destined career path for Harding was actually the furthest thing from his mind as a child.
“It’s very ironic because I had no intention of becoming a teacher,” Harding said. “As a child, I loved exploring nature and dreamt of working for National Geographic. I remember staring at ants for hours.”
Though a job in the great outdoors never came to fruition, Harding started shaping his future when his high school bought two Apple II computers, nicknamed Bert and Ernie, and he helped with the programming. Harding went on to double major in computer science and chemistry at Bethany College and then received his Master of Chemistry from the University of Virginia. He stayed out east to begin his career at a small computer firm, but quickly found himself missing his Midwest family. Once back in Kansas, Harding accepted a database programming position with Associated Colleges of Central Kansas.
Working in technology, Harding has had the opportunity to see the rise of the Internet. Before becoming a Wildcat, he was hired by Kansas Wesleyan University to be a network administrator. Harding says he can remember when only nine faculty members had email addresses and the entire campus was just starting to go online.
Now at K-State Salina, Harding teaches classes that will prepare students in careers as programmers, system administrators, data administrators, web developers and information technology support. He teaches a class on creating and designing mobile apps after he spent two semesters researching the topic for the university. And he’s currently interested in collaborative education that would pair his students with other degree options like digital media, engineering technology and unmanned aircraft systems to heighten their learning experiences and create relevant situations that will aid them after graduation.
While Harding is surprised and honored to receive the teaching excellence award, he says he can’t take all of the credit.
“My students are teachers, too, and I learn from them every day,” Harding said. “I love watching them solve problems and I constantly find myself saying, ‘I never thought of it that way before.'”