by Kimberly Bird and Julee Cobb
Bill Gross, Kansas State University Polytechnic Campus aviation professor who has received certification as a 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 pilots flying around the world as pilots for the airlines, corporate pilots, military and air traffic controllers.”