Whether she’s leading students to find their passion for computers or overcome their fear of them, Michelle August strives to help students realize every career needs technology skills. For her work in and outside of the classroom, August is the 2015 Professor of the Year.

It’s important to August that her students see the application of what they learn in class to their future careers, so she incorporates real-world examples such as the IBM Watson project, case problems and articles into her lectures. Her understanding that students need additional credentials to make them marketable led her to create an industry certification roadmap of Moraine Valley’s courses–an advising tool of sorts–to better prepare students for their future in technology.

“With technology so prevalent in everyday lives, it only makes sense that technology skills are critical for any career,” August said. She is currently working on creating a large-sample pilot for testing all students to ensure they have the technology skills needed to be successful in a career in today’s technological world.

To aid in student retention of the software development area, August created programs in mobile application development and database administration through the NISGTC DOL grant. The programs she developed are new trends and still risky in terms of awareness and demand.

Her students are successful, an indication of the affect her teaching has on them. She nominates the best ones for various national awards and scholarships. The winners of the Terry O’Banion Student Developer Champion and the COMMON Student Innovation Award have been August’s students for two consecutive years, and two students won national awards they accepted at conferences.

“Academic learning should be a combined effort of the teacher and the student. My role as a teacher is to inspire, motivate and lead the student to the information needed to acquire knowledge in a particular area. Students will be motivated to learn if they see the relevancy of the presented material,” August said. “I believe every student should be made to realize that what they get out of their education is completely dependent upon what they put into it.”

August is a force in the classroom, yet the work she does outside of the college is just as impressive. She is an active member of the OMNI User Group, a Chicago-based association of computer users specializing in the IBM midrange platform. She is a member of COMMON, A Users Group, the world’s largest professional association of IBM technology users. She has served on several committees with this group and currently serves as the COMMON Education Foundation executive director. In this role she charts the course for this nonprofit organization.

She serves as a member of the national IBM Advisory Council for Power Systems, a sounding board for new ideas IBM is considering as well as an avenue for customers to bring concerns to IBM’s developers. She works closely with the IBM Academic Initiative to inform other educators of software/hardware discounts and curriculum available to them. She also volunteers as a grader for the Regional ICTM math contest held at a local high school each year and is a member of the House of Representatives for the Illinois Federation of Teachers Cook County College Teachers Union.

August has been a member of myriad committees at the college—too numerous to name them all—and has impacted the local community (Women in Technology Boot Camps, high school career fairs, technology competitions with Moraine Area Career Systems), the state level (panelist at the Illinois Technology Foundation Technology Symposium and Course Technology Chicago Forum) and national level (working with the Department of Labor grant, Pearson book reviewer, IBM Summer School Roundtable Session, and more).

“Being chosen as Professor of the Year is truly an honor. I have been blessed with a profession I love that enables me to enrich the lives of others, and I have been recognized for doing so. I don’t think there can be a more gratifying scenario. This award has brought me even further down my career path than I ever dreamed possible. It is an exciting and humbling achievement I will cherish forever,” she said.