Reaching new heights: Kansas State Polytechnic Flight Team selects its first-ever female captain

By Julee Cobb

Maddie Perry, junior in professional pilot, Wichita, has been selected as the first-ever female captain of the Kansas State Polytechnic Flight Team.

The flight team on the Kansas State University Polytechnic Campus has a brand-new leader and for the first time in the student organization’s history, it is a woman.

Maddie Perry, Wichita, junior in professional pilot, was selected to serve as team captain at the recent annual officer elections. She is currently the only woman on the Kansas State Polytechnic Flight Team, which is comprised of 25 members ranging from freshmen to seniors. Perry also is the first female to earn the title of captain in the group’s more than 20-year existence. As the team’s leader, Perry will be in charge of fundraising, managing community outreach events, such as their youth aviation summer programs, and preparing members for regional and national collegiate competitions.

“It is such an honor to be chosen captain of the flight team by my peers because it demonstrates to me that they respect my ideas and vision for the team and trust that I will be a responsible and motivating leader,” Perry said. “I promise to work hard every day so that I meet their expectations. It also makes me proud to know that I am the first woman ever to be the team’s captain. I hope to use my position to encourage other female students to get involved in flight team as well as be a good example for young girls in the field of aviation.”

Along with adding more women to the flight team roster, Perry would like to see students beyond the aviation program join the organization. She says other collegiate flight teams have members who are engineering and math majors because they can make strong contributions to the competition events that don’t involve flying. She also wants to elevate the team’s connection with other student clubs and organizations on campus as well as with the Salina community, in particularly with youth; increase the team’s industry sponsorship and fundraising; and create an overall welcoming and encouraging environment.

To be considered for flight team captain, students must meet certain qualifications, including being an active part of the team for the past competition year, having participated in the most recent competition and having been to a minimum of one competition. During elections, which also consist of voting on secretary/treasurer, safety officer and student coach, the captain candidates give a presentation to flight team members on their involvement and accomplishments, goals for the organization and why they are best suited for the position. Members then have an opportunity to ask questions of the candidates before casting anonymous ballots.

“I have watched Maddie mentor and tutor other aviation students as well as contribute to the growth of aviation education in our local schools by working with the next generation,” said Benjamin Jaffee, senior assistant chief flight instructor and flight team faculty advisor at Kansas State Polytechnic. “This is why I was excited for her and our members when I learned she had been selected. Maddie is a natural-born leader with an authentic love for aviation, so I know she will do an amazing job leading the flight team.”

In addition to flight team, Perry manages one of the wings of a residence hall on campus as a resident assistant. Currently, she is working on her certified flight instructor rating and plans to graduate in May 2019 with a bachelor’s degree in professional pilot. Her ultimate career goal is to be an airline pilot, starting at a regional carrier and then moving to a major airline.

Perry’s interest in aviation was inspired by her father, who is a private pilot. She began flying with him in the family’s Cessna 182 Skylane when she was in middle school, first for enjoyment and later learning how to take the controls.

After hearing that she was selected the next captain – and first female captain – of the Kansas State Polytechnic Flight Team, Perry said both of her parents were proud and excited, adding that her dad “is on cloud nine.”

Kansas State Polytechnic announces student ambassadors for 2017-2018 academic year

By Julee Cobb and Kris Grinter

Five new student ambassadors have been chosen to represent Kansas State Polytechnic for the 2017-2018 academic year. Back row, from left: Juan Diaz, Logan Renz and Colton Linenberger; and front row, from left: JT Brantley and Clayton Bettenbrock.

The Kansas State University Polytechnic Campus has selected five new Wildcats to serve as student ambassadors.

One sophomore, one junior and three seniors will represent Kansas State Polytechnic in the coveted leadership positions during the 2017-2018 academic year. Ambassadors attend a variety of on-campus, community-based and industry events to give their personal perspective on the student experience as well as promote campus offerings and purple pride. Undergraduates named as student ambassadors are JT Brantley, senior in mechanical engineering technology, Abilene; Clayton Bettenbrock, sophomore in mechanical engineering technology, Geneseo; Logan Renz, junior in UAS flight and operations, Hays; Juan Diaz, senior in professional pilot, Salina; and Colton Linenberger, senior in computer systems technology, Washington.

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Unmanned aircraft systems senior lands back-to-back internships with NASA

By Julee Cobb

Kendy Edmonds, senior in UAS flight and operations and UAS design and integration, Valley Falls, is interning with NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center in Edwards, California, during the fall 2017 semester. This is Edmonds’ second internship with the space exploration entity.

Kendy Edmonds, a senior at the Kansas State University Polytechnic Campus, is expanding her collegiate experience to include back-to-back internships with 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, was selected for a fall internship at NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center in Edwards, California, after completing a summer stint at the Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. She is using her aviation background to help NASA with mission planning, procedural development and components testing, all in an effort to integrate UAS into the National Airspace System, or NAS.

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Harding receives Kansas State Polytechnic’s 2017 McArthur award

by Kimberly Bird and Julee Cobb

Kansas State Polytechnic has awarded its 2017 Rex McArthur Family Faculty Fellow Award to Troy Harding.

Troy Harding, computer systems technology professor at Kansas State University Polytechnic Campus, has been named the recipient of the 2017 Rex McArthur Family Faculty Fellow Award.

The McArthur distinction annually recognizes a Kansas State Polytechnic professor for teaching excellence, a commitment to research and honorable services to the university, college and community.

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Gross receives Kansas State Polytechnic’s 2017 Marchbanks award

by Kimberly Bird and Julee Cobb

Bill Gross, professor of aviation, is the recipient of Kansas State Polytechnic’s 2017 Marchbanks Memorial Award for Teaching Excellence.

Bill Gross, Kansas State University Polytechnic Campus aviation professor who has received certification as a master flight instructor, has been named the 2017 Marchbanks Memorial Award for Teaching Excellence recipient.

The award was established more than 30 years ago to commemorate a faculty member’s commitment in the classroom, service to students and overall merit as a teacher.

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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.

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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.

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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 For professional training offerings, including customizable courses, contact the campus’s professional education and outreach office at 785-826-2633 or 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

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