Airport management, UAS students place second in national airport design competition

By Julee Cobb

Airport management and unmanned aircraft systems students at the Kansas State University Polytechnic Campus performed a proof of concept at the Kit Carson County Airport as part of their research proposal, “Airport Imagery and Geospatial Data Collection Through the Use of UAS,” which placed second in the Airport Cooperative Research Program’s national University Design Competition for Addressing Airport Needs. From left to right: Daniel Melia, Kit Carson County Airport manager; Hsin Huang, senior in airport management; Preston Renfro, May 2017 bachelor’s graduate in unmanned aircraft systems; Ian Bonsall, May 2017 bachelor’s graduate in airport management; Trevor Witt, data analyst in the Applied Aviation Research Center; David Burchfield, UAS teaching assistant professor and degree option coordinator; Chris Senn, UAS teaching assistant professor; and Elliot Rogers, May 2017 bachelor’s graduate in airport management.

Airport management and unmanned aircraft systems students from the Kansas State University Polytechnic Campus are receiving national recognition for their interdisciplinary research on a current airport industry challenge.

The Airport Cooperative Research Program, which is managed by the Transportation Research Board and sponsored by the Federal Aviation Administration, has selected the team of Kansas State Polytechnic students as second place winners in its annual University Design Competition for Addressing Airport Needs. The five students submitted a project examining an alternative to typical aerial data collection methods at airports titled, “Airport Imagery and Geospatial Data Collection Through the Use of UAS.”

The contest, now in its 11th year, invites collegiate students from across the country to propose innovative designs and practical solutions to various airport issues facing the industry today. All of the proposals, which do not have to originate from an aviation-related degree program, were entered into one of four categories in the competition — Airport Operation and Maintenance, Runway Safety/Runway Incursions/Runway Excursions, Airport Environmental Interactions, and Airport Management and Planning — and awards went to the top three schools of each group. Kansas State Polytechnic took second in the Airport Operation and Maintenance category behind Tufts University.

“This is the first time that any K-State student has entered the ACRP competition, so taking home second place is quite an honor and it reflects strongly on our students’ work ethic, ambitious ideas and ability to problem solve,” said Tara Harl, airport management associate professor and option coordinator at Kansas State Polytechnic. “I think the award also demonstrates the caliber of rigor that the airport management and UAS curriculum provides, giving students the opportunity to engage in real-world projects and gain multiple perspectives by collaborating between majors.”

The research project began when Harl and her counterpart in the UAS degree option decided to merge one of their upper level project-based courses so students could gain a better understanding of each other’s fields of study and how they connect in industry. Four airport management students and one UAS student formed a team and decided to explore if unmanned aircraft are a viable supplement to an airport’s current means of gathering aerial data.

According to the students’ initial analysis, airports use aerial imagery and geospatial data to create an Airport Layout Plan. This blueprint is an in-depth look at the airport’s property and aids in future development and improvement decisions. Images taken overhead also can help in building topography maps that show elevation differences and where issues such as puddling can occur on runways. Generally, aerial data is collected through satellite imagery, light detection and ranging, or LiDAR, or manned aircraft, and the work is usually hired out to third party consultants. As a result of this information, the students wanted to test the idea that unmanned aircraft could be a substitute in that process and possibly make it more cost effective and more efficient.

The students went on to perform a literature review and develop a problem-solving approach. Next, the Kit Carson County Airport in Burlington, Colorado, gave the students permission to use its property to complete a proof-of-concept operation at an active airport. Before flying, the team of students along with faculty members and the Kit Carson airport manager, Daniel Melia, conducted a safety risk assessment. Then, the group surveyed 550 acres of the airport’s property with three unmanned aircraft and captured 2,900 images total, which were later processed into maps in the campus’s UAS lab. The students also interviewed professionals in the industry who provided cost data for the current process and compared it with the team’s sample incurred costs, which yielded significant savings.

At the end of the project, the team of students concluded in its proposal that airport operators can run into high costs trying to obtain updated aerial photography and data collection, and in turn, resign to using old and inaccurate layout plans. The students said industry professionals have identified a need for a lower cost option, especially for quick and small area projects. They said their research successfully demonstrates that UAS technology could be integrated into the data collection process at airports and provide an on-demand option that reduces both cost and risk.

Along with a second-place win, the project also provided students an opportunity to learn how the two worlds of manned and unmanned aviation can safely merge — something David Burchfield, UAS teaching assistant professor, said is imperative in the industry and the classroom.

“The more UAS become integrated into the National Airspace System, the more airports are going to have to know how to accommodate unmanned operations in their airspace and unmanned pilots need to be sensitive to FAA rules about flying near airports,” said Burchfield, who is also the option coordinator for the UAS degree. “This is something we want our students to be proficient in and that’s why we are creating these interdisciplinary learning opportunities. Whenever degrees cross paths with each other, students are exposed to new and relevant ideas that will help them grow academically and become more prepared in their profession.”

“Collaborating with another degree option on this project transformed our education from sitting in a classroom talking about what would be cool to do to executing a project that could make an impact on the airport community,” said Elliot Rogers, a member of the research proposal team and May 2017 bachelor’s graduate in airport management, Davis, California.

The other students involved in the research project include Ryan Thomas, May 2017 bachelor’s graduate in airport management, Atchison; Ian Bonsall, May 2017 bachelor’s graduate in airport management, Goodland; Preston Renfro, May 2017 bachelor’s graduate in unmanned aircraft systems, Dallas, Texas; and Hsin Huang, senior in airport management, Taichung City, Taiwan.

To learn more about the airport management and UAS degree options, contact Kansas State Polytechnic’s admissions office at 785-826-2640 or polytechnic@k-state.edu.

Kansas State Polytechnic offers training courses for social workers, other helping professionals in Salina, Manhattan and Hays

By Julee Cobb

Debra Marseline, center, social work practicum director and program coordinator at Kansas State Polytechnic, will be teaching the Working with Loss and Grief course on Oct. 13.

From self-care to working through grief, a trio of training courses for professionals in helping fields, such as social workers, therapists and psychologists, are being offered by the Kansas State University Polytechnic Campus in three different Kansas cities in the coming months.

The courses, designed to provide comprehensive curriculum, including new trends in industry and refresher information, are primarily for professionals who need to obtain continuing education units, or CEUs, though anyone from the community is welcome to attend. Starting in July and running through October, Kansas State Polytechnic is holding three courses and expanding its location from only one campus in Salina to both east and west in Manhattan and Hays. The course topics include Seven Steps to Fabulous Grant Writing, Self-care is Ethical Practice, and Working with Loss and Grief. All are approved by the Kansas Behavioral Sciences Regulatory Board.

“Many helping fields like social work require professionals to obtain continuing education units in order to stay current when knowledge is changing,” said Debra Marseline, social work practicum director and program coordinator at Kansas State Polytechnic. “There are core skills that professionals learn in school, but then there’s new evidence-based practices that emerge from time to time and CEUs can help bridge that gap. Because this campus produces graduates in social work, I’m proud it is a place that continues to foster educational growth for professionals through these courses.”

The first class Kansas State Polytechnic is offering is Seven Steps to Fabulous Grant Writing on July 17 at Fort Hays State University. Attendees will learn key grant writing skills needed to author competitive proposals as well as how to find and work with funders that are right for an agency’s specific needs. Participants also will be able to understand the grant proposal review process.

Self-care is Ethical Practice will be Sept. 15 at Kansas State Polytechnic in Salina and will educate attendees on how to identify secondary trauma injuries such as compassion fatigue, secondary traumatic stress and burnout through specific symptoms and warning signs. The course also will help registrants create a self-care plan for themselves and learn how to facilitate a self-care strategy with others.

Working with Loss and Grief will be Oct. 13 at the K-State Alumni Center in Manhattan and is designed to explore the types of losses that may trigger a grief reaction while identifying strategies for working through those losses. Additionally, participants will learn common myths about grieving, discuss the central needs of mourning and recognize unresolved issues.

“Kansas State Polytechnic has a unique advantage for providing CEU courses,” said Kirsten Zoller, interim director of professional education and outreach for Kansas State Polytechnic. “Our instructors are not only licensed social workers, but they also have a teaching background. They can deliver high-quality courses while understanding what social workers and other helping professionals are experiencing day to day in the field. This combines to produce tailored trainings that best meet the needs of today’s professionals.”

For registration information on any of the three helping courses offered by Kansas State Polytechnic, including cost, sign-up deadlines and value of continuing education units, visit the campus’s professional education and outreach webpage at polytechnic.k-state.edu/profed.

After dark: Kansas State University Polytechnic Campus approved to conduct UAS flight operations at night

By Julee Cobb

Kansas State University Polytechnic Campus has previously only been authorized to fly unmanned aircraft during the day, whether for research or in professional and undergraduate flight training. The campus has now received approval from the FAA to operate UAS after dark.

The Kansas State University Polytechnic Campus is expanding its unmanned aircraft systems capabilities to now include flight operations after dark.

Kansas State Polytechnic’s Applied Aviation Research Center, which houses the unmanned aircraft systems research program, has received approval from the Federal Aviation Administration to conduct UAS flights at night. It was granted a special waiver because flying unmanned aircraft after the sun sets is currently not permitted under the FAA’s Part 107 rule – the regulatory framework for civil and commercial small UAS operations. In addition to the campus’s research sector, the night flight waiver will be utilized in commercial flight training courses and in forthcoming curriculum in the UAS degree option.

“Having the ability to fly unmanned aircraft at night is a significant asset to our program, adding another layer to the state-of-the-art training we provide industry partners and students and allowing us to retain our status as a leader in applied UAS research,” said Kurt Carraway, UAS executive director of the Applied Aviation Research Center.

“Initially, the waiver request was motivated by an ongoing research project with Westar Energy,” Carraway said, “but its benefits will have an impact on a multitude of contributions this campus makes to the unmanned industry.”

Accompanying any research work that requires data collected by UAS at night is the authorization to instruct unmanned flight training classes after dark, both for professionals and undergraduate students. The Applied Aviation Research Center offers several different UAS short courses and is introducing night operations into its commercial remote pilot training course starting June 23. The course addition includes two hours of classroom instruction covering flight basics at night, necessary waivers and exemptions for night flight and how to set up a night operation. Following the classroom instruction, students receive one hour of hands-on night flight training using a S-1000 multirotor aircraft out in the field.

In undergraduate academics, Kansas State Polytechnic offers two UAS degree options and one minor, with the UAS flight and operations concentration requiring a series of multirotor and fixed-wing flight ratings as part of the curriculum. Faculty members are currently creating new training methods that would add night operations into one of the labs for the advanced multirotor course, giving students experience with mission planning, flight cues and recovery methods after dark.

“A key element of the way we train our students is exposing them to different scenarios that they might encounter in industry as they leave school, so the more situations you can introduce them to, the better off they are going to be,” said David Burchfield, UAS teaching assistant professor and degree option coordinator at Kansas State Polytechnic. “There are an increasing number of night applications for UAS, such as search and rescue, aerial photography and ag mapping, and as time goes on, students are more likely to be working in those conditions. It is just another tool in their tool box to take with them to industry.”

The UAS degree option intends to integrate night flight training exercises starting this fall.

To inquire about UAS opportunities with the campus’s Applied Aviation Research Center, contact Carraway at 785-826-7170 or kcarraway@k-state.edu. For professional UAS training offerings, contact Kansas State Polytechnic’s professional education and outreach office at 785-826-2633 or profed@k-state.edu. To learn more about the UAS academic degree options, contact the campus’s admissions office at 785-826-2640 or polytechnic@k-state.edu.

Unmanned aircraft systems student lands summer internship at NASA

By Julee Cobb

Kendy Edmonds, senior in UAS flight and operations and UAS design and integration, Valley Falls, has been selected for a summer internship at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center.

Kendy Edmonds, a senior at Kansas State University’s Polytechnic Campus, is spending the summer advancing unmanned aircraft systems technology at the nation’s best-known entity for space exploration.

Edmonds, Valley Falls, who is double majoring in unmanned aircraft systems, or UAS, flight and operations and UAS design and integration, has been selected for an internship with NASA where she is focusing on data management of small UAS. Based at the Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, which is NASA’s first space flight complex established in 1959, Edmonds hopes to gain insight and experience in creating a streamlined process for collecting, storing and managing UAS data, including best practices in organizing and labeling the digital information as well as how long it should be saved and what can be deleted.

As a data processing assistant in the Applied Aviation Research Center, or AARC, at Kansas State Polytechnic, Edmonds said it is imperative for the UAS industry to have a proper system of gathering and safely maintaining data so that information about unmanned aircraft and any incidents in the field can be reported and recorded to continue improving the technology. Accurate data management also prevents the onset of dark data, which refers to information that fails to get used for a purpose.

“I can’t wait to see what kind of data they are gathering, what they are using it for and how their management system works,” Edmonds said before starting her internship June 5. “NASA is such a substantial organization with so much innovation, it will be fascinating to see how they are tackling the UAS data challenge.”

Kurt Carraway, left, UAS executive director and Edmonds’ supervisor at the Applied Aviation Research Center, says she is a “role model and outstanding example of what leadership…is all about.”

The position at Goddard Space Flight Center will be Edmonds’ first internship — she has previously spent her summers in college working at the Applied Aviation Research Center. And it is this experience along with her involvement on campus that her supervisor believes helped her stand out from the rest of the applicants and will provide her with the necessary tools to succeed.

“Since joining our team, Kendy has impressed me with her quick ability to pick up the highly technical elements of photogrammetry and data analysis. In addition to her role at AARC, she has served as a flight instructor to her underclassmen and the president of the UAS club, all while continuing to excel academically,” said Kurt Carraway, UAS executive director of the Applied Aviation Research Center at Kansas State Polytechnic. “NASA hires the best and Kendy’s selection is indicative of the type of person she is. I am confident she will continue to be a role model and an outstanding example of what leadership in aviation is all about.”

“I am truly humbled by this opportunity,” Edmonds said. “I know I’ll only be there for 10 weeks, but I want to be challenged. I want to do something huge, something groundbreaking!”

Edmonds will complete her internship at NASA on Aug. 11.

A round of applause: Kansas State Polytechnic celebrates student achievements in annual end-of-the-year awards banquet

By Julee Cobb

The motto on the Kansas State University Polytechnic Campus is, “the experience matters,” and for many Wildcats, these are words they have taken to heart.

Along with performing the typical duties of an undergrad – engaging in classroom discussion, attending study sessions and turning in homework on time – students at Kansas State Polytechnic are making vital contributions to their major, clubs and organizations, fellow students and the overall morale of the campus by enthusiastically and selflessly going beyond what is asked of them. Some students spend several extra hours a week in a learning laboratory just because they have a genuine desire to know more. Others take on the responsibility of being a voice for their peers and join student government. And for a few, it may be random acts of kindness that fulfill their time on campus.

Whatever the case may be, Kansas State Polytechnic highlights those students who make the most of their experience during the annual Awards and Recognition Banquet. Celebrating its 31st year, the dinner and awards show, held April 20, brought together students, faculty and staff to honor personal and educational accomplishments from the 2016-2017 school year.

Close to 30 accolades were handed out, ranging from each majors’ student of the year to the coveted Wildcat Pride awards, which spotlight community service involvement, inspirational actions, and both a determined and dedicated attitude. The award nominations were open to anyone on campus and after submitted, were voted on by an established committee.

“Each student brings a unique perspective, special talents and skills, and a vibrant personality that contribute to the success of the campus,” said Verna Fitzsimmons, CEO and dean of Kansas State Polytechnic. “They deserve to be recognized for their dedication. The awards banquet is a great opportunity to acknowledge our outstanding students and celebrate their work.”

Taya Smith, a senior in social work, Salina, is the winner of the 2017 Wildcat Pride award for community service.

Taya Smith, a senior in social work, Salina, was announced as the winner of the Wildcat Pride award for community service. According to its nomination description, the award recognizes a student who understands the civic responsibility of serving the community. The student sees the bigger picture and is aware of the community’s needs.

Smith was selected because of her passion for helping others and bringing people together. She has been devoted to expanding diversity awareness both on campus and off. She has assisted in the planning of many events that bring the community to Kansas State Polytechnic and has been involved in many clubs and organizations.

According to her nominators, Taya “exemplifies the true meaning of service” and has used the obstacles she has faced in life as inspiration to guide others through their own hardships.

Sarah Longey-Hassell, a graduating senior in social work, Larned, is the recipient of the 2017 Wildcat Pride award for determination.

Sarah Longey-Hassell, a graduating senior in social work, Larned, is the recipient of the Wildcat Pride award for determination, which suggests its winner shows a quality of firmness in beliefs and actions, doesn’t quit until an answer or decision is reached and pursues life by focusing on achieving a goal with passion.

According to one of her nominators, “Sarah is the most determined person I have ever met.” She was chosen because she isn’t afraid of any obstacle in front of her and has a never-quit mentality. She is also a mother who has worked hard at prioritizing her life to meet her goal of graduating on time.

Alec Cork, a senior in electronic and computer engineering technology, Wichita, receives the honor of the 2017 Wildcat Pride award for most inspirational student.

Alec Cork, a senior in electronic and computer engineering technology, Wichita, received the honor of the Wildcat Pride award for most inspirational student. This award recognizes someone who inspires others to achieve the highest level at which they are capable, and epitomizes the qualities of determination, dedication and service. This student must also maintain a GPA of 2.5 or above.

Cork was selected because of his character and involvement around the Polytechnic Campus. He is a student worker in the library at the front desk and can often be found giving academic assistance to his peers in math and electronics. He also likes to interact with students on the library floor, asking about their wellbeing. Cork even uses his skills to help repair broken technology equipment on campus.

His nominators said, “Alec is a caring person who makes everyone feel they have something to contribute simply by providing encouragement and a reliable presence.”

Macy Schneweis, a graduating senior in social work, Salina, is the recipient of the 2017 Wildcat Pride award for dedication.

Macy Schneweis, a graduating senior in social work, Salina, is the recipient of the Wildcat Pride award for dedication, which is given to the student who is committed to a particular course of thought or action. He or she goes above and beyond on a project and may display characteristics of being a multitasker.

Schneweis was selected because of her energy, enthusiasm and commitment to helping the Polytechnic Campus achieve success. Through her leadership, driven attitude and solid ideas, she has helped SGA and the many clubs and committees she’s involved in to run more smoothly and efficiently.

According to her nominators, “Macy’s passion for fellow students and this campus makes her truly deserving of this award.”

Below is a list of other winners from Kansas State Polytechnic’s 31st annual Awards and Recognition Banquet:

Outstanding Academic Student Awards

Airport Management – Elliot Rogers

Applied Business – Hannah Schulte

Aviation Maintenance – Hyunsu Kim

Chemistry – Mary Monsanto

Computer Systems Technology – Ryan Fabac

Electronic and Computer Engineering Technology – Eric Perkins

Expository Writing – Reagan Hotz

Family Studies and Human Services – Courtney Hoffman

Mechanical Engineering Technology – Tyler Montgomery

Outstanding Student Life Graduating Senior – Logan Gideon

Professional Master of Technology – Steve Magnum

Professional Pilot – Matthew Katzke

Social Work – Carol Thorstad

Technology Management – Meredith Thompson

Unmanned Aircraft Systems Design & Integration – Kendy Edmonds

Unmanned Aircraft Systems Flight & Operations – Preston Renfro

 

Outstanding Campus Awards

Academic Advisor/Faculty Mentor of the Year – Julie Rowe

Club Advisor of the Year – Tim Bruner

Faculty Member of the Year – Cheryl Calhoun

Intramural Team of the Year – Stallions

Larry Caldwell Sportsmanship Award – Zach Smith

Staff Member of the Year – Cody Waterman

Student Employee of the Year – Spencer Schrader

Student Organization of the Year – UAS Club

Kansas State Polytechnic Flight Team soars at nationals with several top ten individual finishes, places 13th overall

By Julee Cobb

Members of the Kansas State Polytechnic Flight Team who competed at the National Intercollegiate Flying Association SAFECON National Championship pose with their individual awards, from left: Christopher Pennington, Christopher Jansen, Matthew Katzke, Maddie Perry, Nicholas Terrapin, Jacob Mitchell, Caleb Strahm, Chris Messing, Brendan Borcherding, Brian Kimani, and Jason Rohlf.

The flight team on the Kansas State University Polytechnic Campus has landed several individual awards and an overall 13th place finish after competing at the National Intercollegiate Flying Association, or NIFA, Safety and Flight Evaluation Conference, or SAFECON, National Championship.

Held May 9-14 this year at Ohio State University, the annual competition brings together the top collegiate aviation teams from across the country to battle it out in a variety of tests both on the ground and in the air. Competing against 27 other colleges and universities made up of more than 250 aviators, the Kansas State Polytechnic Flight Team scored four Top 10 awards in individual events: first in message drop, third in certified flight instructor, third in instrument simulated flight and eighth in crew resource management/line oriented flight training. Additionally, the team placed 13th overall and senior Chris Messing won Regional Top Pilot.

“I am impressed by the dedication and perseverance of each member of the flight team to do their best during nationals and am inspired by the way in which they supported one another from practice to competition,” said Ben Jaffee, flight team faculty adviser and senior assistant chief flight instructor at Kansas State Polytechnic. “The flight team represented the university well and while many of them took home honors, they all improved their aviation knowledge and skills and got a chance to meet and network with the next generation of aviation professionals.”

In October 2016, the Kansas State Polytechnic Flight Team placed third in their region at NIFA SAFECON, which secured their place at nationals. The team will now reconvene when the fall semester begins and hold tryouts for the 12 open spots. Jaffee says it is not a requirement for students to be a professional pilot major in order to make the team.

“Any student enrolled in a four-year degree program is welcome to join the team – a passion for aviation and aircraft can go a long way on ground events and to compete in flight events, students need to hold at least a private pilot certificate.”

Along with competing annually, flight team members also use their club as way to give back to the community and to connect children with aviation. Throughout the year the team is a part of several events like the All-University Open House and Candy Canes and Airplanes. It also conducts two aviation camps for kids and one for high school students in the summer.

The Kansas State Polytechnic Flight Team’s individual events and placings at the 2017 NIFA SAFECON National Championship are as follows:

Nicholas Terrapin, junior, Alma, first in message drop, eighth in the crew resource management/line oriented flight training event, 45th in navigation, 75th in aircraft recognition, 104th in power-off landing, 105th in short field landing and 108th in simulated comprehensive aircraft navigation; Caleb Strahm, freshman, Sabetha, 35th in power-off landing, 38th in message drop, 39th in ground trainer, 45th in navigation, 79th in computer accuracy and 107th in short field landing; Brendan Borcherding, sophomore, Salina, 68th in computer accuracy, 93rd in message drop, 104th in simulated comprehensive aircraft navigation and 109th in power-off landing; Chris Messing, senior, Wichita, eighth in the crew resource management/line oriented flight training event, 14th in power-off landing, 25th in ground trainer, 33rd in the aircraft preflight inspection event, 55th in navigation, 70th in short field landing, 96th in aircraft recognition and 115th in simulated comprehensive aircraft navigation; and Maddie Perry, sophomore, Wichita, 38th in message drop and 55th in navigation.

Jacob Mitchell, junior, Foxfield, Colorado, third in the certified flight instructor event, 36th in the aircraft preflight inspection event, 64th in simulated comprehensive aircraft navigation, 65th in short field landing, 66th in navigation, 81st in computer accuracy and 93rd in message drop; Jason Rohlf, freshman, Tipton, Iowa, 37th in aircraft recognition; Brian Kimani, freshman, Middle River, Maryland, 69th in message drop; Christopher Pennington, senior, El Paso, Texas, first in message drop, 35th in aircraft recognition; Christopher Jansen, sophomore, The Woodlands, Texas, third in the instrument simulated flight event, 64th in computer accuracy, 102nd in aircraft recognition; and Matthew Katzke, junior, Waukesha, Wisconsin, 66th in navigation, 69th in message drop, 82nd in simulated comprehensive aircraft navigation and 97th in computer accuracy.

For more information on the flight team, including sponsorship, contact Jaffee at 785-826-2978 or bjaffee@k-state.edu.

Kansas State Polytechnic UAS student competes in first-ever collegiate drone racing competition

By Julee Cobb

Michael Wilson, a junior in the UAS flight and operations degree option, competed in the nation’s first collegiate drone racing competition.

The list for unmanned aircraft applications continues to grow – the technology is now being utilized as a racing sport and a student from the Kansas State University Polytechnic Campus has participated in the first-ever collegiate competition.

Michael Wilson, a junior in the unmanned aircraft systems, or UAS, flight and operations degree option, Iola, Kansas, was the only student from the state of Kansas to be selected for the inaugural Collegiate Drone Racing National Championship held April 15 at Purdue University. Representing Kansas State Polytechnic, he joined nearly 50 other pilots from schools across the country using UAS to battle it out on a complex obstacle course. The national competition was hosted by Purdue University’s student drone club, who wanted to create an event that promotes UAS education, and featured more than $15,000 worth of equipment and prizes for the winner.

Wilson says each participant was required to build the unmanned aircraft that was being raced. In each of the heats, the pilots flew around the course using first person view – cameras mounted on the aircraft to see where they were going – attempting to score as many laps as possible in two minutes. The top 16 pilots with the most laps moved on to the finals, which a student from Georgia Tech eventually won.

Wilson competing at the first-ever Collegiate Drone Racing National Championship.

Though Wilson didn’t bring home the national championship title, one of his professors, Christopher Senn, says he is “hands-down one of the best UAS flight instructors at Kansas State Polytechnic.” Students can act as a flight instructor for other UAS students once receiving a certain rating.

“Michael holds an extensive amount of knowledge in unmanned aircraft systems and is one of my top students,” said Senn. “Every chance he gets, he is outside flying his aircraft, and as a flight instructor, he has successfully taught a number of other students how to proficiently operate multirotor unmanned aircraft in a safe manner.”

After graduation next year, Wilson plans to work either as a UAS test pilot for various industries or as a UAS pilot performing inspections.

To learn more about Kansas State Polytechnic’s UAS academic degree options, contact the option coordinator, Michael Most at 785-826-2681 or mtmost@ksu.edu. For professional UAS training offerings contact the campus’s professional education and outreach office at 785-826-2633 or profed@k-state.edu. To inquire about UAS opportunities with the campus’s Applied Aviation Research Center, contact Kurt Carraway, UAS executive director of the center, at 785-826-7170 or kcarraway@k-state.edu.

Kansas State Polytechnic awarded airport improvement grant from Kansas Department of Transportation

By Julee Cobb

The grant announcement was made March 29 during a ceremony in the aviation maintenance hangar at Kansas State Polytechnic. Pictured, from left, is Dr. Kurt Barnhart, associate dean of research, Eric Shappee, aviation professor and director of flight ops, Dean Verna Fitzsimmons, Richard Carlson, Kansas secretary of transportation, and Merrill Atwater, director of aviation for KDOT.

The Kansas State University Polytechnic Campus, which is connected to the Salina Regional Airport, is the recipient of an airport improvement grant.

The Kansas Department of Transportation has selected Kansas State Polytechnic for a Kansas Airport Improvement Program grant totaling $428,990 to help renovate portions of the campus’s and airport’s shared area known as the ramp. The award was announced March 29 by Richard Carlson, transportation secretary, and Merrill Atwater, director of aviation for KDOT, during a ceremony in Kansas State Polytechnic’s aviation maintenance hangar.

“Aviation is a cornerstone of this campus that dates back more than 50 years and we have proudly continued that focus through the current professional pilot, airport management, aviation maintenance management and UAS programs,” said Verna Fitzsimmons, CEO and dean of Kansas State Polytechnic, at the announcement. “With this grant, we can keep providing a safe environment to our aviation students, CFIs, faculty and staff as well as the public. It also allows us to keep working toward our 2025 goals, which include improving facilities and infrastructure.”

Kansas State Polytechnic was selected as one of 26 recipients around the state for airport improvements. The grant will be used to refurbish portions of the engine run-up area and taxi routs located on the campus’s ramp and connected to the Salina Regional Airport. The combined total value of the approval projects is estimated at $4.45 million, with Kansas State Polytechnic receiving the third largest amount.

“It is imperative that the ramp area is maintained because that will reduce damage to our state and visiting aircraft from ground debris,” said Eric Shappee, aviation professor and director of flight operations for Kansas State Polytechnic. “This ultimately results in saving our students money and the campus additional man hours as well as supporting economic development in regards to campus and city guests.”

Tissa Salter, an instructor in technical communication, provided her expertise in writing the grant and Kurt Barnhart, associate dean of research and engagement, Joe Harrison, director of facilities, and Dean Fitzsimmons, also contributed to the process. The grant is expected to be dispersed during the state’s fiscal year of 2018.

Kansas State Polytechnic UAS professor keynote speaker at Kansas Natural Resources conference

By Julee Cobb

Another industry is seeing the potential of unmanned aircraft systems and has asked a professor at Kansas State University’s Polytechnic Campus to serve as educator on the possible applications.

David Burchfield, a teaching assistant professor in the UAS program at Kansas State Polytechnic, was the keynote speaker at the 2017 Kansas Natural Resources GIS Technical Meeting on April 6.

David Burchfield, a teaching assistant professor in the UAS program at Kansas State Polytechnic, was the keynote speaker at the 2017 Kansas Natural Resources GIS Technical Meeting on April 6. Burchfield, who specializes in UAS remote sensing data acquisition and processing, presented to geographic information systems, or GIS, professionals from across the state. His discussion, titled “Unmanned Aircraft Systems as a Geospatial Tool for Natural Resources,” explored how UAS, or drones, can be valuably utilized in GIS mapping and data collection.

“Professionals in this industry are often looking for new ways to collect aerial data that can be incorporated into geographic information systems for many different purposes, and UAS represent an exciting, low cost approach to collecting that data,” said Burchfield.

The conference, now in its second year, is a venue for GIS professionals in natural resources conservation to collaborate on potential projects, share technical knowledge, build professional and organizational relationships and learn from other natural resources GIS professionals. Along with Burchfield giving the gathering’s keynote address, there were also a variety of presenters from state, federal, tribal, local and non-governmental organizations.

“We really enjoyed having David give the keynote at our meeting,” said Erika Stanley, a representative from the Kansas Water Office. “We asked him to speak because unmanned aircraft systems is receiving a lot of attention in the GIS field and they have so many potential applications. David’s expertise in the use of UAS platforms for the collection of natural resource data and his experience with forestry applications in Kansas was spot on for the audience of this meeting.”

Prior to arriving at Kansas State Polytechnic, Burchfield worked as an image analyst, GIS specialist and UAS pilot for AgPixel in Des Moines, Iowa, creating aerial map products primarily for the agricultural industry. He holds a bachelor’s degree in geography from Brigham Young University and a master’s in geography from K-State, where he was involved with a multidisciplinary team of scientists that was exploring agricultural and natural resources applications of UAS-based remote sensing. Also while he was a K-State graduate student, Burchfield worked at the Kansas Forest Service in Manhattan as their GIS specialist.

To learn more about Kansas State Polytechnic’s UAS academic degree options, contact the option coordinator, Michael Most at 785-826-2681 or mtmost@ksu.edu. For professional training offerings, including customizable courses, contact the campus’s professional education and outreach office at 785-826-2633 or profed@k-state.edu. To inquire about UAS opportunities with the Applied Aviation Research Center, contact Kurt Carraway, UAS executive director of Kansas State University’s Applied Aviation Research Center, at 785-826-7170 or kcarraway@k-state.edu.