Our Instructor Spotlight is on Evan Gross, MPA. Evan is no stranger to the IT world, as he has owned an IT consulting business and currently serves as an LMS System Administrator at UTC. When he isn’t instructing CPE’s CompTIA A+ course or teaching as a UTC political science adjunct professor, Evan leads the emerging nonprofit Life Under The Wheel. Get to know Evan and why he believes the A+ course is impactful for individuals interested in IT careers.
Marah: What professional experience do you have relating to the course you are teaching?
Evan: An IT career was not one I initially set out to establish. I somehow just fell into it! I owned an IT consulting firm, Southern Computer Group, for over a decade before I transitioned into my current role at UTC. I came back to finish a couple of degrees at UTC and ended up falling in love with the higher education environment. I knew I wanted to use my IT skill set to contribute to the university.
M: What excites you the most about teaching and leading others? Why do you enjoy teaching?
E: I enjoy the learning experience and being able to help other people learn. I get excited when students find a connection to what they’re learning. Often, they say, “Oh! I have been doing that for years, and I never thought of it as XYZ. Now it makes sense to me!” That’s what attracts me the most to teaching.
M: What is your teaching style?
E: Many people take the A+ course to pass the certification exam. That’s a wonderful goal, but I also want students to be able to know how to apply what they are learning. I teach from a practical application standpoint and want students to implement their knowledge in real-world scenarios. I think of teaching like exercise. The knowledge that certain exercises target certain muscle groups is great but being able to physically apply the exercises will make the ultimate difference. Many instructors fall into the PowerPoint style where they just read bullet points off slides. I want my students to use what they learn in the field, outside of the classroom.
M: What qualities make a great IT professional?
E: IT is such a broad field that the answer to that question often depends on the type of work one is doing. Consistency, reliability, and analytical thinking are typical qualities that are important in the field. Above all else, problem-solving is the most important quality. Much of IT can be compared to being a veterinarian. A computer, nor a cat or dog, can talk back to you, but both present you with a set of symptoms requiring a diagnosis and treatment plan to resolve the issues. The ability to use the scientific method taught in elementary school—forming hypotheses and testing with experiments—is used quite frequently as an IT generalist. The A+ course as well as UTC’s IT Fundamentals+ course will enable students to strengthen their technical aptitude and core skill set for success.
M: What advice would you give to someone wanting to learn more about IT?
E: Be curious. Ask questions because there is so much information on the subject matter. It’s easy to get into a rut and do the same things that we know work over and over again. There is a time and place for that, but technology is always changing, and we must often adapt to it. Also, we hear more stories of breaches in data and cybercrimes that are growing in size and scope daily. Constantly be thinking about how to make your IT methods safe and secure to prevent those scenarios as much as possible.
M: What is a fun fact about yourself that you would share with our readers?
E: I do a fair amount of music festival contracting work. I’ve been working in the industry for 15 years, even for events you would more than likely recognize. I highly enjoy that part of my life!
M: Is there anything else you would like to share about IT or the CompTIA A+ course you teach?
E: Oftentimes, this type of course is offered for 8-10 hours a day, five days in a row. I think the way the CPE director, John Freeze, has positioned the course is important. The course is only two days a week at nighttime over the course of 10 weeks. This allows more people with jobs to participate. Let’s say someone who’s interested in IT is a shift supervisor at a restaurant; they may have a more difficult time taking off five days of work in a row. People will take the course to make career changes or to improve their position, thus improving their quality of life. The course allows working folks to have opportunities to pursue IT, or dip their toes in to see if they like the field, in a more flexible format.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Marah Whitaker (think Laura with an M) serves as the marketing assistant for the UTC Center for Professional Education. During the workday, she spends time writing blog posts, creating content for social media, developing email campaigns, and building relationships with CPE’s customer base. During her free time, you can find her getting lost in a good book, having spontaneous dance parties, playing piano, and going to Buffalo Wild Wings on Wing Night. Professionally and personally, she aspires to live by Mr. Feeny’s advice, “Dream. Believe. Try. Do Good.” She strives to use her passions to serve others and contribute positively to the world around her.
Connect with Marah on LinkedIn.