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.

Andrew G. Talbott, 2005 graduate of the Polytechnic Campus, named Kansas State University Alumni Fellow

Andrew G. Talbott, a 2005 graduate of the professional pilot program on the Polytechnic Campus, is selected as one of this year’s Kansas State University Alumni Fellows.

Andrew G. Talbott is one of 12 distinguished Kansas State University alumni honored as 2017 Alumni Fellows.

Talbott is an Alumni Fellow for the College of Technology and Aviation, which is located on K-State’s Polytechnic Campus, and will be honored during a celebration April 19-21. He will return to his alma mater to present guest lectures and discuss current trends while meeting informally with students and faculty.

Talbott, along with the other 11 Alumni Fellows, was chosen for the award based on his high level of professional accomplishment and distinguished service within his respective career. Based in Hanford, California, he is a strike fighter pilot for the U.S. Navy and a former member of the Blue Angels. Talbott has accumulated more than 3,600 flight hours and has 335 carrier arrested landings. His decorations include a Meritorious Service Medal, a Strike Flight Air Medal, four Navy and Marine Corps achievement medals and various personal and unit awards. He holds the rank of lieutenant commander.

Prior to joining the Navy, Talbott was a flight instructor for K-State for two years and earned a bachelor’s degree in airway science in 2005 from K-State Salina, now Kansas State Polytechnic. A native of Sedan, Kansas, Talbott completed two deployments aboard the USS Enterprise and flew in support of Operation New Dawn and Operation Enduring Freedom. He and his wife, Missy, have two children, Noah and Cora.

For more information about the Alumni Fellows program, including a full listing of the 2017 Alumni Fellows, visit www.k-state.com/fellows.

Kansas State Polytechnic professor selected as aviation maintenance educator of the year

By Julee Cobb

Andrew Smith, professor of aviation maintenance management at Kansas State Polytechnic, has been chosen as the 2017 Ivan D. Livi Aviation Maintenance Educator of the Year by the Aviation Technician Education Council.

Andrew Smith, professor of aviation maintenance management at Kansas State Polytechnic, has been chosen as the 2017 Ivan D. Livi Aviation Maintenance Educator of the Year by the Aviation Technician Education Council.

An aviation professor on Kansas State University’s Polytechnic Campus is being acknowledged for his work in the classroom with a national educator of the year award.

Andrew Smith, a 13-year veteran of the aviation maintenance management program at Kansas State Polytechnic, has been selected as the 2017 Ivan D. Livi Aviation Maintenance Educator of the Year. The honor is presented annually by the Aviation Technician Education Council, or ATEC, to recognize the outstanding achievements of a collegiate professor or instructor in the aviation maintenance technology field. Presented since 1990, Smith will receive his award on April 1 at the organization’s annual conference in Seattle.

“Andrew is an incredible resource for ATEC,” said Crystal Maguire, executive director of the organization. “As longtime chair of the regulatory committee, he is the go-to person for regulatory compliance questions for instructors and administrators across the country. His approachable personality and willingness to assist, coupled with his knowledge and experience of Federal Aviation Administration certification requirements, are an invaluable asset for the entire aviation maintenance technical school community.”

“I love working with students every day and helping them develop into aviation professionals ready to serve and lead, so being recognized with this special award is a true honor,” Smith said. “I am thankful to those who nominated me and to the selection committee who chose me out of a pool of deserving candidates.”

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Kansas State Polytechnic elects new student body president, vice president

By Julee Cobb

Christian Coker, left, a sophomore in professional pilot from Tulsa, Oklahoma, and Nicholas Ramirez, a freshman in professional pilot from Wichita, were elected as the 2017-2018 student body vice president and president of Kansas State University's Polytechnic Campus.

Christian Coker, left, a sophomore in professional pilot from Tulsa, Oklahoma, and Nicholas Ramirez, a freshman in professional pilot from Wichita, were elected as the 2017-2018 student body vice president and president of Kansas State University’s Polytechnic Campus.

The student body of Kansas State University’s Polytechnic Campus has elected its new undergraduate leadership.

Nicholas Ramirez, freshman in professional pilot, Wichita, has been chosen as student body president of Kansas State Polytechnic. Christian Coker, sophomore in professional pilot, Tulsa, Oklahoma, will serve as student body vice president. When the two take office in the Student Governing Association, or SGA, on Tuesday, March 28, they will begin implementing their platform of advocating for students’ needs and increasing student involvement on campus.

“I believe students on this campus deserve to have a SGA that really cares about them, their challenges and their ideas. It is important to Christian and me that students feel like their voices matter and that we’re here to represent them,” Ramirez said. “Despite having a little bit of a learning curve, I am honored and humbled that my fellow students have faith in me to lead their student government.”

“We just want to encourage students to make the most of their four years in college, which Nicholas and I believe includes engagement outside of the classroom,” said Coker. “Whether it’s a club, activity, campus job or even SGA, students will make connections and build friendships when they are actively involved, which will result in a better college experience and better campus environment.”

Ramirez, who graduated from Andover High School, got started in SGA last semester when he acted as a senator for the aviation program. Though initially he didn’t have any intention of running for president when the elections were first announced, he received an outpouring of support that swayed his decision.

“I was hesitant to run in the beginning, but was given tremendous encouragement from my professors, advisor and other senators. I also was inspired by the hard work and leadership of the current president and vice president,” Ramirez said. “After a lot of consideration and prayer, I decided to take a leap of faith in the hope I could demonstrate my passion for the campus and bring about the change students desire.”

In addition, Ramirez is a peer tutor for the residence halls, was a member of the Women in Aviation student club in fall 2016 and is on the Honor Council. He decided to pursue a degree in aviation because his father is a pilot for American Airlines and he has always loved flying. After graduating, Ramirez’s ultimate career goal is to sit beside his father in the cockpit of an airplane as his first officer.

Coker, a graduate of Broken Arrow High School, was also an aviation senator in SGA last semester and teamed up with Ramirez on the ballot after his running mate dropped out. He works at the front desk of his residence hall and would hear students bring up valid ideas and issues that he decided he wanted to represent. Along with student government, Coker was previously a member of K-State’s ROTC program and hopes to start a running club on campus. After graduation, he wants to shift his career focus to corporate aviation while continuing to fly as a hobby.

Senator positions in arts, sciences and business, aviation, engineering technology and social work/family studies and human services also were selected during the 2017-2018 election.

Kansas State Polytechnic Flight Team advances to nationals, senior Chris Messing wins Top Pilot

By Julee Cobb

Members of the traveling Kansas State Polytechnic Flight Team pose with their awards from the National Intercollegiate Flying Association's SAFECON Region VI competition. Back row, from left: Jason Rohlf, Nicholas Terrapin, Scott Agee, faculty adviser Benjamin Jaffee, team captain Austin Bally, Caleb Strahm and Zachariah Smith; and front row, from left: Jacob Mitchell, Matthew Katzke, Maddie Perry, Chris Messing, Mason McMillan and Christopher Pennington.

Members of the traveling Kansas State Polytechnic Flight Team pose with their awards from the National Intercollegiate Flying Association’s SAFECON Region VI competition. Back row, from left: Jason Rohlf, Nicholas Terrapin, Scott Agee, faculty adviser Benjamin Jaffee, team captain Austin Bally, Caleb Strahm and Zachariah Smith; and front row, from left: Jacob Mitchell, Matthew Katzke, Maddie Perry, Chris Messing, Mason McMillan and Christopher Pennington.

The Kansas State Polytechnic Flight Team has landed the honor of competing on a national stage after qualifying in regional play with a third-place finish as well as winning several individual awards.

Attending the National Intercollegiate Flying Association’s SAFECON competition Oct. 17-20 in Norman, Oklahoma, the flight team — from Kansas State University’s Polytechnic Campus — battled it out against other colleges in its region for the chance to advance to the national championship. After participating in a variety of events consisting of tests both on the ground and in the air, the Kansas State Polytechnic Flight Team placed third overall, securing its spot at nationals in May 2017.

“During the weeks leading up to regionals, the team spent many hours working on the intricacies of each event, and then during the competition, everyone did an excellent job of executing what they had learned,” said Austin Bally, Wichita, a senior in professional pilot and captain of the flight team. “Along with the third-place team finish, we earned several top 10 placings in the ground events and many top five scores in the flight events. Our success was a collaborative effort and proved that practice pays off.”

The Kansas State Polytechnic Flight Team faced six other universities during the SAFECON regional: Oklahoma State University, which placed first; University of Nebraska, Omaha, which came in second; Southeastern Oklahoma State University; University of Central Missouri; St. Louis University, Parks College; and University of Oklahoma. Members of each team entered ground and flight events, such as landing a plane accurately in a designated area, recognizing different types of aircraft from ambiguous photos and attempting to hit a target while dropping an item from the air. Participants earned points for each event entered, which were then accumulated to score single event winners as well as the top three teams and the overall top pilot.

Chris Messing, a senior in the professional pilot program at Kansas State Polytechnic, wins the title of Top Pilot and is the Top Scoring Contestant at the National Intercollegiate Flying Association's SAFECON Region VI.

Chris Messing, a senior in the professional pilot program at Kansas State Polytechnic, wins the title of Top Pilot and is the Top Scoring Contestant at the National Intercollegiate Flying Association’s SAFECON Region VI.

One of the individual standout moments came from Kansas State Polytechnic senior Chris Messing, Wichita, who, because of his placings in seven events, accrued enough points to win both Top Scoring Contestant and the Top Pilot award out of more than 80 total participants from the seven universities. Messing, who enjoys the family atmosphere, networking and the continued opportunity to develop his aviation knowledge, says earning the principal honors was unexpected, but it has given him validation and confidence.

“Going into the competition, I just wanted to do my best so I could give my teammates the opportunity to experience nationals,” Messing said. “I’m proud to win these awards because they demonstrate that my hard work and preparation for the competition have been worth it. They also give me more confidence to know I can accomplish anything as long as I study, stay focused and do what’s right.”

Along with Messing, the following members of the Kansas State Polytechnic Flight Team competed at regionals; included are individual placings:

Nicholas Terrapin, junior, Alma, first in message drop, fifth in navigation, 22nd in aircraft recognition and 22nd in power-off landing; Mason McMillan, senior, Ozawkie, eighth in power-off landing, 10th in aircraft preflight inspection, 22nd in short field landing and 22nd in simulated comprehensive aircraft navigation; Caleb Strahm, freshman, Sabetha, 25th in computer accuracy; Austin Bally, senior, Wichita, second in power-off landing, fifth in navigation, 11th in computer accuracy, 14th in simulated comprehensive aircraft navigation and 16th in short field landing; and Maddie Perry, sophomore, Wichita, 15th in short field landing and 34th in computer accuracy.

Jacob Mitchell, junior, Foxfield, Colorado, eighth in navigation,ninth in aircraft preflight inspection, 10th in power-off landing and 22nd in computer accuracy; Jason Rohlf, freshman, Tipton, Iowa, second in aircraft recognition; Scott Agee, senior, Independence, Missouri, first in message drop, sixth in ground trainer, 13th in navigation, 24th in short field landing and 26th in simulated comprehensive aircraft navigation; Zachariah Smith, freshman, Hendersonville, North Carolina, 28th in aircraft recognition; Christopher Pennington, senior, El Paso, Texas, first in aircraft recognition; and Matthew Katzke, junior, Waukesha, Wisconsin, eighth in navigation, 21st in simulated comprehensive aircraft navigation and 23rd in computer accuracy.

The flight team has 20 members, with 12 on the travel team after a tryout process. 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.

In 2014, the flight team won the Loening Trophy at nationals, which is considered the oldest and most elite of all collegiate aviation awards. It recognized the team as having the most outstanding all-around aviation program in the country.

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

Engineering technology professor Raju Dandu receives Kansas State Polytechnic’s prestigious McArthur Award

By Julee Cobb

Raju Dandu, who has served the Polytechnic Campus for nearly 20 years in engineering technology, has been awarded the Rex McArthur Family Faculty Fellow Award for 2016.

Raju Dandu, who has served the Polytechnic Campus for nearly 20 years in engineering technology, has been awarded the Rex McArthur Family Faculty Fellow Award for 2016.

Engineering technology professor Raju Dandu, who has been a faculty member on the Kansas State University Polytechnic Campus for almost 20 years, has been named the recipient of the 2016 Rex McArthur Family Faculty Fellow Award. 


The McArthur distinction, which annually recognizes a Kansas State Polytechnic professor for teaching excellence, a commitment to research and honorable service to the university, college and community, was presented to Dandu during the campus’s Faculty and Professional Staff Showcase in September. Dandu was chosen for the award because of his leadership in several national engineering organizations and his involvement with the local engineering industry; but his selection is primarily because of the experience he provides his students, which is a mixture of professional knowledge and practical life lessons.


Dandu came from humble beginnings in Andhra Pradesh, India, a state on the country’s southeastern coast. His parents were only able to achieve a fifth grade level education, so he believed the responsibility of being a successful student fell solely on his shoulders. Dandu became committed to his education and graduated from high school – which stops at 10th grade in India – at the top of his class. While most students then go on to what is called intermediate school, Dandu skipped ahead and entered Andhra Polytechnic, an institute similar to a community college in the United States, for a three-year program in automobile engineering.


While the common next step was to land a job as a vehicle inspector in his state, Dandu was ambitious in his pursuits and driven to be different. He applied for a national study abroad competition in India, which gave its winners the opportunity to continue their education in a new country with all expenses paid. Dandu says his friends and classmates made fun of him for believing he had a chance at being chosen, but he proved them wrong.


After being selected as one of about 100 students from across the country for an interview, Dandu boarded a train by himself and traveled 36 hours to Delhi to make his case for entrance into the study abroad program. Dandu’s good grades, strong work ethic and enthusiasm impressed the judges and he was awarded a fully paid scholarship to study mechanical engineering in what is now Bratislava, Slovakia. 


For five years, Dandu worked on his master’s degree at the Slovak University of Technology, first studying general engineering and then specializing in thermal and nuclear power engineering. He next moved to Tripoli, Libya where, for four years, he was employed at a nuclear research facility. Dandu spent time in reactor maintenance and then was promoted to chief engineer for the radioactive waste management facility.


After living on three continents, Dandu was ready for his next adventure. He first went back to Slovakia to marry his wife, Kamila, whom he had met at the university in Bratislava. They applied for immigration to Canada, Australia and on the advice of a friend, the United States too. Dandu and Kamila ended up in Fargo, North Dakota, where he went to work on his doctorate in mechanical engineering. After completing his degree and teaching at North Dakota State University for a year, interestingly enough, Dandu was not finished traveling. 


Receiving an opportunity to pass on his passion for engineering, Dandu and his family moved to Puerto Rico where he was tasked, along with four other American professors, with building an engineering program for the University of Turabo. Dandu gave the project four years of his expertise, eventually helping it to become accredited with the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology, or ABET.


Dandu receiving the McArthur Award from Verna Fitzsimmons, CEO and dean of the Polytechnic Campus.

Dandu receives the Rex McArthur Family Faculty Fellow Award from Verna Fitzsimmons, CEO and dean of the Polytechnic Campus, during the Faculty and Professional Staff Showcase.

Because of how welcoming the people of Fargo had been to Dandu and his wife, when they moved back to the United States, he wanted to land somewhere in the Midwest. Dandu applied for an open position in the engineering technology department on Kansas State University’s Polytechnic Campus and was hired in 1997. Since that time, he has made it a point to include the lessons he has learned during his travels as part of the industry-relevant curriculum he provides.


“In all of my life pursuits and journeys, I have never been fearful of what lies ahead because I know that each new person, place or culture I have encountered is an opportunity for growth, knowledge and understanding,” said Dandu, who, through those world travels learned to speak several languages, including Telugu, English, Slovak, Czech, Spanish, Arabic and Hindi. “One of the messages I want to get across to my students is how important it is to be receptive to all life has to offer. Do not be afraid of the future, go into it with an open mind and embrace it.”


Dandu, who teaches mechanical engineering technology courses related to product design and development as well as senior project classes, also gives students the chance to apply their knowledge by working with local companies to solve real industry challenges. And students are able to successfully collaborate with professionals and build their skill level because he first instills in them confidence and drive.


“I strive to make learning easy and purposeful,” said Dandu. “Once you see purpose, it awakens your inner desire to learn and you become self-motivated. I want students to be inspired by their own ideas and believe it is possible to make them happen.”


Along with teaching bachelor’s level courses, Dandu helped start the campus’s graduate program in 2010 and served as its director for three years, from 2013 to 2016. Dandu is a commissioner for ABET, helping lead the teams that accredit various collegiate programs. He was elected to the board of directors for the American Society of Engineering Education, or ASEE, and is an active member of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers.


Dandu provides consulting for area engineering companies, has served on the Salina United Way board of directors in 2014 and actively connects his mechanical engineering technology classes with the local Boy Scouts of America to assist with their programming.


Though Dandu is proud of his professional accomplishments and world travels thus far, he also is honored to be part of the long list of winners of the McArthur Award.


“I want to thank the Rex McArthur family for their support of this campus and its professors by sponsoring an award like this,” said Dandu. “The value they place on education gives us professors inspiration to be better teachers.”


Dandu and wife Kamila make their home in Salina and have three children: Gautama, who graduated from K-State with a degree in civil engineering and currently is pursing his teaching certificate; Maya, who will graduate from Pittsburg State University in December; and Ajay, a senior at Salina High School South.

Kansas State Polytechnic names mathematics instructor Teresa Hartman winner of 2016 Marchbanks Memorial Award for Teaching Excellence

By Julee Cobb

Mathematics instructor Teresa Hartman is the 2016 recipient of Kansas State Polytechnic's Marchbanks Memorial Award for Teaching Excellence.

Mathematics instructor Teresa Hartman is the 2016 recipient of Kansas State Polytechnic’s Marchbanks Memorial Award for Teaching Excellence.

Mathematics instructor Teresa Hartman, who has served the Kansas State University Polytechnic Campus for almost 10 years, is the 2016 recipient of the prestigious Marchbanks Memorial Award for Teaching Excellence. The honor, established more than 30 years ago, annually recognizes a Kansas State Polytechnic faculty member’s commitment in the classroom, service to students and overall merit as a teacher. 


While becoming an educator wasn’t on her radar until graduate school, Hartman’s natural talent and innovative intuition are evidence the classroom is where she belongs. Hartman has been able to successfully take a subject often dreaded by students and transform it into a comprehensible ally. And knowing that the price of education is of equal concern to students as understanding the material, Hartman has incorporated cost effective measures into her teaching.


Hartman is the first faculty member at Kansas State Polytechnic to implement the Open Textbook initiative. She has essentially abandoned traditional textbooks in her College Algebra and General Calculus classes and in their place, created a series of 10 to 15 minute videos that explain the information step by step. Students are able to access the videos online and can pause, rewind and watch them as many times as they like until the math problem is understood.


“Math textbooks haven’t always made sense to me, which is disappointing because that is my profession; and if I can’t grasp how the material is laid out in the books, then why should I expect my students to?” said Hartman, who also teaches the courses online. “The purpose of an alternative or open textbook is to provide cost savings for students while improving the quality of the learning process. Because of the videos, students are not required to buy a textbook in College Algebra and General Calculus, and the information is adapted in such a way it can easily be understood.”


Hartman, who also teaches Intermediate Algebra and Intro to Statistics, says one of her career goals, once she got into teaching, has been to author her own textbook. Even though she thought at first the ambition might be “crazy and unrealistic,” she continued to dream about composing an instructional tool that actually aids students, not acts as a confusing hindrance.


“With the math videos, in a roundabout way, I turned a farfetched idea into reality. I never imagined I would actually be able to create my own alternative textbook, but when the opportunity presented itself, I jumped at the chance and other teachers should too. If you strongly believe in doing something, go for it!” Hartman encouraged.


That persistent will to succeed was first honed while growing up on a pig farm in small-town Summerfield, Kansas, where Hartman was tasked with completing her older brothers’ chores once they left for college. She cultivated that determined spirit in high school at Axtell Public School where she became competitive with some of her classmates over their math test scores. And it was during this battle for superior student that Hartman realized she had a knack for numbers.


Hartman attended Fort Hays State University where she received a bachelor’s degree in mathematics. Unsure how to turn her major into a profession, she continued her education at Kansas State University working toward her master’s in mathematics. While at K-State, Hartman was a graduate teaching assistant and says the process of leading a classroom came natural to her. Hartman’s teaching advisors even complemented her on the way she was able to connect with students.


What solidified Hartman’s future in the education world was a chance meeting with one of Kansas State Polytechnic’s faculty members. Hartman just happened to be the only graduate teaching assistant in her office when Don Von Bergen, the director of the Polytechnic Campus’s arts, sciences and business department at the time, came inquiring about appropriate qualifications for a math instructor that he should list on a new job posting. Hartman later applied for the open position of math instructor at Kansas State Polytechnic and was chosen for the job.


Since arriving on the Polytechnic Campus in 2007, and along with teaching four math sections and online classes, Hartman holds workshops to assist students who need extra help learning how to use graphing calculators. She also has served as the faculty sponsor for the campus’s dance team, the Spirit Cats; was elected chair of the Academic Affairs Committee of Faculty Senate; and has won several other awards, including a distance learning award and the 2016 Educator of the Year honor from the campus’s Multicultural Student Union.


Hartman, now a Salina resident, has been married to her husband Bret since 2009 and the couple currently has two children – daughter, Autumn, who is three years old, and son, Braxton, who turned two in July – and is expecting their third child in February.

Kansas State Polytechnic professor Tim Bower’s robotics education article published in prestigious engineering magazine

By Julee Cobb

Tim Bower, computer systems technology professor at Kansas State Polytechnic for 12 years, holds his published article on robotics programming for beginners in the IEEE Robotics and Automation magazine.

Tim Bower, computer systems technology professor at Kansas State Polytechnic for 12 years, holds his published article on robotics programming for beginners in the IEEE Robotics and Automation magazine.

Tim Bower, a computer systems technology professor at Kansas State University’s Polytechnic Campus, is being recognized for his teaching methods in robotics programming by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, or IEEE.

Bower composed an article in April last year about his strategies for educating beginning students on the complexities of robotics and it was chosen by IEEE Robotics and Automation magazine for publication in the June 2016 edition. The story, entitled “Teaching Introductory Robotics Programming,” was one of only nine editorials selected out of almost 40 submissions from 15 different countries.

The article is inspired by the robotics programming course Bower created in spring 2014. With a variety of majors enrolled, including unmanned aircraft systems, mechanical engineering technology and electronic and computer engineering technology, he knew many of the students would only have basic knowledge of the technology and may have challenges comprehending the algorithms involved. Bower streamlined the course by highlighting the areas of robotics that are more understandable for beginners and in one case, developed his own algorithm.

“In robotics programming, multiple things are happening at the same time ­– reading sensors, controlling wheels and motors, steering – and it can be a difficult technology to master,” said Bower, who has been with Kansas State Polytechnic for 12 years. “As a professor, the last thing I want is to frustrate and discourage students by forcing them to learn something that isn’t on their educational level. It’s important to create a path where students have an appreciation for the complexities and also leave my class feeling successful.”

Bower’s article, which gives examples of the simplified autonomous algorithms he uses in the course including the wall-following algorithm he invented, was chosen for publication because of the quality of the written document as well as its purpose of helping beginners feel comfortable with robotic programming. This is Bower’s first article that a publication of IEEE has picked up, though he has had a few previous articles appear in other educational journals.

“I’m very honored to see my article selected for such a prestigious publication – it’s a validating feeling when my many hours of research and teaching are recognized,” said Bower. “Most importantly, however, I hope it gives teachers and professors ideas and strategies they can use to help their students feel more confident and accomplished.”

Before arriving on the Kansas State Polytechnic campus in 2004, Bower was a systems administrator in the computer science department on K-State’s Manhattan campus. He also worked for 10 years at Sprint in Kansas City as an electrical engineer. Bower earned a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from K-State and a master’s in electrical engineering from the University of Kansas.

In 2015, Bower won Kansas State Polytechnic’s Excellence in Innovation Award during the campus Faculty and Professional Staff Awards Showcase.

Kansas State Polytechnic’s Dean Verna Fitzsimmons receives national recognition with Inspiring Women in STEM Award

By Julee Cobb

Verna Fitzsimmons, the CEO and dean of Kansas State University's Polytechnic Campus, has been chosen by INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine as one of the recipients of its 2016 Inspiring Women in STEM Award.

Verna Fitzsimmons, the CEO and dean of Kansas State University’s Polytechnic Campus, has been chosen by INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine as one of the recipients of its 2016 Inspiring Women in STEM Award.

As the first woman to be CEO and dean of Kansas State University’s Polytechnic Campus, Verna Fitzsimmons is receiving national recognition for her continued support and leadership of women in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics, or STEM.

INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine, the largest and oldest diversity and inclusion publication in higher education, has named Fitzsimmons a recipient of its 2016 Inspiring Women in STEM Award. This accomplishment honors women who work to inspire and encourage a new generation of young women to consider careers in STEM through mentoring, teaching, research and successful programs and initiatives. Fitzsimmons will be featured, along with 65 other recipients, in the September 2016 issue of the magazine.

“I am truly honored to receive this recognition because part of my purpose as a female educator with an engineering background is instilling in young women the belief that there are no boundaries when it comes to their future,” said Fitzsimmons, who has been at the helm of Kansas State Polytechnic since 2012. “Growing up, I had amazing mentors who encouraged and exposed me to STEM fields and I believe it is my responsibility as well as my honor to do the same for the next generation.”

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Kansas State Polytechnic celebrates students’ achievements, campus contributions in 30th annual end-of-the-year awards banquet

By Julee Cobb

Four Kansas State Polytechnic students were awarded the prestigious Wildcat Pride awards at the annual end-of-the-year banquet.

Four Kansas State Polytechnic students are the recipients of the prestigious Wildcat Pride awards given out at the campus’s annual Awards and Recognition Banquet. Pictured, from top left clockwise: Zackary Dahl, Wildcat Pride award for community; Abbas Tayi, Wildcat Pride award for determination; Austin Bally, Wildcat Pride award for dedication; and Joél Mills, Wildcat Pride award for most inspirational.


What goes into a college campus running successfully? Though financial contributions might be the first presumption, the majority of a school’s ability to prosper is through its people. At Kansas State Polytechnic, students spend countless hours studying and collaborating on class projects; however, they also engage in student clubs, volunteer at events, work campus jobs and help tutor other students. Likewise, faculty and staff members go beyond the call of duty to ensure the campus runs smoothly and the students have a valuable experience.

Kansas State Polytechnic highlights that energy, effort and loyalty during its annual Awards and Recognition Banquet. Celebrating its 30th year, the banquet, held on April 21, brought together more than 150 students, faculty and staff to be honored for their accomplishments throughout the 2015-2016 school year.

“Each person at K-State Polytechnic touches the campus in a unique way,” said Amy Sellers, student life coordinator and organizer of the event. “This banquet gives the campus an opportunity to shine a light on the magnificent work performed and the dedication that is given day in and day out. Most importantly, it is a night of pride for the amazing students, staff and faculty that keep K-State Polytechnic buzzing with new ideas, innovations and inspirations.”

Close to 30 different accolades were handed out in three categories: Outstanding Academic Student awards, Outstanding Campus awards and Wildcat Pride awards. Within each of those areas, students, faculty and staff were recognized for a variety of reasons, including their program of study or instruction, sportsmanship, involvement on campus, advising and student club performance. Award nominations were open to anyone on campus and then were voted on by an established committee.

One of the most anticipated moments of the night is when the Wildcat Pride awards were announced. These student-only honors contain appreciation in the areas of community service, determination, dedication and most inspirational.

Zackary Dahl, a graduating senior in airport management, Hoyt, Kansas, 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. Dahl was selected because of his heart for service. He spends time weekly volunteering at the Smoky Valley Nursing Home’s Alzheimer’s unit and at the Marine Corps recruiting station in Salina. Additionally, Dahl has given of his time to Big Brother Big Sisters and the Salina Animal Shelter. According to the nominator, Dahl’s “unselfish acts have touched the lives of this community and those around him.”

Abbas Tayi, a senior in professional pilot, Baghdad, Iraq, was 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. Tayi was selected for his diligent work ethic and integrity, including working toward a goal of graduating early. According to the nominator, Tayi isn’t afraid of any obstacle in front of him and has a “never quit” mentality.

Joél Mills, a senior in technology management, Snellville, Georgia, 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. Mills was selected because of her influence on the campus through her character and involvement. Mills has been a part of Programming Board, is a member of Women in Aviation, and has worked in the Student Life Center and admissions office, regularly giving tours to children in the StarBase program. According to the nominator, Mills is a loyal Wildcat and her blood runs purple. She is not only inspiring as a student, but also simply as the person she is.

Austin Bally, a senior in professional pilot, Wichita, Kansas, was the recipient of the Wildcat Pride Award for dedication, which states its winner goes above and beyond normal duties and is committed to a particular course of thought or action. Bally was selected because his initiative and leadership has helped launch a new summer aviation program for high school students. He also is committed to assisting his fellow undergraduate professional pilot students through involvement in the flight team. According to the nominator, Bally has gone above and beyond to make certain campus programs run smoothly, and his energy and enthusiasm contribute to the campus’s success.

Below is a list of other winners from K-State Polytechnic’s 30th annual Awards and Recognition Banquet:

Outstanding Academic Student Awards

Outstanding Student Life Graduating Senior – Nick Koch

Phi Kappa Phi – Natasha Gawith

Expository Writing – Mary Ewers, Jacob Rose and Mehnaz Afrin

Unmanned Aircraft Systems – Trevor Witt

Aviation Maintenance – Rachael Luna

Airport Management – Garett Ludlum

Professional Pilot – Chris Messing

Family Studies and Human Services – Lien Hecker

Social Work – Rubi Torres

Personal Financial Planning – Sevda Tasci

Computer Systems Technology – Tyler Kongs

Chemistry – Colton Maxwell

Electronic and Computer Engineering Technology – John Baumfalk-Lee

Mechanical Engineering Technology – Jason Hager

Technology Management – Pamela Barrett


Outstanding Campus Awards

Student Employee – Trevor Witt

Larry Caldwell Sportsmanship Award – Cooper Potts

Club Advisor of the Year – Lindsey Dreiling

Academic Advisor/Faculty Mentor of the Year – Alyssha Munt and Jess Simpson

Staff Member of the Year – Kyle Chamberlin

Faculty Member of the Year – Charles Van Gundy

Student Organization of the Year – Social Work Wildcats