SALINA —Neal Bloomquist, assistant teaching professor of aviation at Kansas State University Salina Aerospace and Technology Campus, is the recipient of the 2023 Marchbanks Award.
The Marchbanks Award is presented annually to a faculty member at K-State Salina to recognize and honor exemplary service to students, commitment in the classroom and overall excellence in teaching.
Bloomquist currently instructs air carrier operations and crew resource management courses at K-State Salina. These topics are vital to pilot students' education — the courses support their training, ensure safety regulations are followed and provide the know-how to solve problems that arise during a flight. According to Bloomquist, many airlines spend time and resources ensuring that their pilots can work together, and coming out of college with that skill puts K-State Salina pilots ahead in their careers.
Bloomquist has more than 35 years of professional aviation experience.
"I give my students examples of what I have experienced in my pilot career," Bloomquist said. "They seem to gravitate to the first-hand experience that I have. I try to emphasize the importance of safety and following proper procedures, but also being able to think outside of the box. If you do what's safe, nobody will criticize you."
Bloomquist earned his bachelor's degree in business administration from the University of Nebraska in 1981 and a master's degree in aviation safety from the University of Central Missouri in 2013.
"We are thrilled to recognize Neal for the quality education he brings to his students," said Alysia Starkey, K-State Salina CEO and dean. "In our quest to develop the future leaders of tomorrow, it is imperative that our students learn from faculty who have many years of professional experience in industry. This type of education best serves students to be able to learn first-hand from the experts in their degree fields."
Bloomquist has worked for various aviation companies over the years, including time as a pilot for Frontier Airlines from 1985-1986 and United Airlines from 1987-2008. In his time with United Airlines, he was also the Boeing 737 flight simulator instructor. Bloomquist has experience as an air traffic controller for the Federal Aviation Administration and was an analyst for Lockheed Martin Aerospace from 2014-2016.
His experience training professional pilots led Bloomquist to realize that he could make a difference in the education of students who aspire to become pilots, which led to him joining K-State Salina's faculty in 2016.
"It's a big reason why I went into education and training future pilots," Bloomquist said. "I enjoyed helping my peers and ensuring the proper safety protocols were followed, but to be able to teach aspiring pilots in their initial flight education really motivated me."
Although Bloomquist doesn't have a view from the cockpit as the captain of an aircraft anymore, he says that he enjoys his time as an instructor now. Being able to share his experiences in aviation with students and seeing them go from not being able to operate a flight simulator without instruction to being able to do everything on their own is what he enjoys most about teaching.
As the nation's first operational land-grant institution, Kansas State University has served the people of Kansas, the nation and the world since its founding in 1863 — and it continues to set the standard as a next-generation land-grant university. K-State offers an exceptional student experience across three physical campuses and online offerings, meeting students where they are and preparing them to achieve their personal and professional goals. The university is committed to its mission of teaching, research and service through industry-connected programs, impactful research-driven solutions, and a sharp focus on community engagement and economic prosperity.
Salina Area Chamber of Commerce