May 9, 2011

Fisher student entrepreneur receives accolades from Microsoft

Despite the fact 20-year-old Kenneth Harding is co-founder of a technology company; has more than a decade of experience as a programmer; is an award-winning Microsoft engineer and a licensed pilot, there is one thing that is extremely important to him—completing his Fisher education.

A programmer and entrepreneur at the tender age of eight, Harding, who learned Microsoft programming from his father, said the temptation to drop out of school like Bill Gates doesn’t exist.

“I want to finish school,” said Harding, who is in his second year in the Information Systems program at Fisher and currently works on the information technology team at The Ohio State University Airport.

His extensive resume includes learning Microsoft Visual Basic 6.0 programming as an 8-year-old and creating his own computer game, “Lucky Seven Slot Machine.” By the time Harding was 11-years-old, he created his own video game review website that attracted nearly 4,000 visitors to the site. At 16, when he first started working at the airport, he overhauled the Department of Aviation’s website; re-built the department’s internal portal and built a content management system.

“I know a lot about technology and programming, but that doesn’t mean I’m able to make a company a success. That’s why I decided to get a business degree. I need to get competency in business,” said Harding, whose radiant smile and energy could power Fisher Hall.

He and four of his friends from Dublin-Coffman High School formed their own game studio called Soulfire Software. Now the five member team, all pursuing various degrees at Ohio State, are still developing games. Harding’s most recent, SketchBox 360, was released on the Xbox Live Indie Games Marketplace.  He calls the game a “virtual Etch-A-Sketch.” The game has gotten nearly 3,000 trial download since its debut last July. Harding’s talents also earned him a special tribute from a major technology company as Microsoft Tech Student of the Month in March.

“I’ve known Ken for almost four years and his willingness to learn, passion for technology and dedication to solving the improbable for the greater good are inspiring,” said Shaun Holloway, Fisher’s director of Web Marketing and Development. Holloway first worked with Harding at COSI where Harding was a high school intern. “The accomplishments and recognition he’s earned early in his career represent only the beginning of Ken’s potential as a developer and industry expert.”

In addition to his passion for technology, Harding is an aviation enthusiast who earned his private pilot’s license and flies a vintage Piper handed down to him by his father.