Blackboard Awards: Ross Grosshart, Engineer Goes Back to High School Mid-Career

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By Alan Krawitz In the case of Chelsea resident and 10th grade electronics teacher Ross Grosshart, the phrase "better late than never" couldn't be more true. After more than 22 years as an engineer, developing software for high-profile companies including Hewlett-Packard, American Express and GTE, Grosshart decided to leave his lucrative career and follow his dream to become a teacher. That passion led Grosshart in 2007 to Brooklyn Technical High School, where he has been teaching 10th graders the finer points of digital electronics ever since. "DE is an introductory, college-level course typical for an college freshman majoring in electrical engineering," said Grosshart, 50. "It starts with electrical circuit fundamentals, both analog and digital, to build student knowledge of different circuit components, and then it moves toward projects and group-based activities where students design complete circuits." Although Grosshart realized he wanted to teach during his undergrad days at the University of Connecticut, it wasn't until he saw an ad for a teacher's program that he decided to act. "I tutored math and chemistry from freshman year until I graduated and realized how fulfilling the role of educator can be," he recalled. "After 20 years in the business, I saw an ad for the NYC Teaching Fellows and looked into becoming a math teacher. I was lucky enough to end up at [Brooklyn Tech] teaching technology classes. "As far as teaching goes, my biggest influence was my chemistry professor at the University of Connecticut, Dr. Covey," he said. "She was the one who pulled me aside after class one day and asked me if I'd be interested in tutoring some students. If not for her, I don't know that I would have ever made the career transition." Projects and concepts that Grosshart covers in his class include working with small, micro-controller-powered robots. "Kids love technology and use it daily, so getting them hooked on the content isn't that difficult," Grosshart said. "Most find the class interesting, especially if they like working with their hands." Grosshart said it wasn't just his desire to teach that drove him to the classroom. "We need technology innovators-and it's more than just an opinion," said Grosshart, agreeing that the United States now lags behind other countries when it comes to turning out enough engineers and workers with technical skills. "Algebra and geometry should be taught throughout the middle school years," he added. "Basic computer programming and introductory engineering should follow." Linda Soled, the parent of a student in Grosshart's class, said the teacher "never hesitates to please parents and students alike." "Friendly to all, caring and extremely grateful to finally be at his dream job, Mr. Grosshart hopes to stick around for a long time doing what he loves," Soled said. "Inspiring kids to look past high school and plan a fulfilling career, that's what he's all about." For Grosshart, some of the best parts of teaching include building a rapport with students that sometimes transforms into a mentoring relationship. He said "dealing with college, applications, personal conflicts, advice, etc.-that's the best part of the job."

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