Kansas State University Polytechnic Campus adds technology education to bachelor’s degree offerings

By Julee Cobb

Kansas State University Polytechnic Campus is expanding its degree options with a new offering for individuals interested in teaching technology at the high school level.

A Bachelor of Science in secondary education with a technology education endorsement is being launched at Kansas State Polytechnic in fall 2018. The degree option is a collaboration with the university’s College of Education and is designed to help address state and national needs for more science, technology, engineering and math, or STEM, educators. Enrolled students will study mechanical, electronic and computer systems curriculum through Kansas State Polytechnic’s engineering technology program while the education pedagogy will be supported by the College of Education.

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Kansas State Polytechnic, Geary County USD 475 team up to improve STEM education with technology grant

By Julee Cobb

Educators from Geary County schools tour the mechanical engineering technology lab during their visit to the Kansas State University Polytechnic Campus in June as part of the teacher institute funded by a grant awarded to USD 475 and Kansas State Polytechnic.

With jobs in science, technology, engineering and math, or STEM, some of the most in-demand in today’s work force, coupled with an expanding focus put on STEM curriculum in the classroom, Kansas State University Polytechnic Campus and Geary County USD 475 have joined together to enhance technology education for elementary, middle and high schools in Junction CityMilfordGrandview Plaza and Fort Riley.

Kansas State Polytechnic and USD 475 have been awarded a more than $160,000 Title II grant that will help 12 schools in Geary County implement adequate technology training for teachers, specifically in computer science and robotics, and increase STEM-related learning opportunities for underrepresented students. The grant, “Enriching and Integrating 21st Century Science and Technology Knowledge and Skills into Today’s Classroom Through Effective Partnerships,” also provides for the purchase of new technology pieces for each classroom, such as a 3-D printer, Osmo kits, a Circuit Playground and Edison robots.

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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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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 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 University Bulk Solids Innovation Center hosts Wolfson Centre senior researcher Richard Farnish for site visit and presentation

With an aim to continue advancing the education and research of bulk solids handling, the Kansas State University Bulk Solids Innovation Center welcomed industry expert Richard Farnish to the facility last month for a site visit and special presentation.

Farnish, who is a senior research fellow, consultant, engineer and professor with the Wolfson Centre at the University of Greenwich, in Chatham, North Kent, England, spoke with employees of the innovation center as well as Kansas State University professors in the engineering technology field on May 9 about particulate handling. During his lecture, he provided insight into where and why challenges occur with the process and also offered solutions to preventing these obstacles, saving both time and money.

Richard Farnish, a senior research fellow with the Wolfson Centre at the University of Greenwich, shares his expertise in diagnosing and solving bulk solids handling problems during a presentation at the Kansas State University Bulk Solids Innovation Center May 9.

Richard Farnish, a senior research fellow with the Wolfson Centre at the University of Greenwich, shares his expertise in diagnosing and solving bulk solids handling problems during a presentation at the Kansas State University Bulk Solids Innovation Center May 9.

“Richard has more than 20 years of experience in the bulk solids industry, so to have him visit our facility and offer up his expertise is quite an honor,” said Kurt Barnhart, associate dean of research at Kansas State University Polytechnic Campus, also located in Salina, Kansas. “The key point of his message is that more bulk solids education is needed – companies should develop their knowledge of handling systems before purchasing one by performing research and an informed, thoughtful analysis, and this is a process our innovation center is aiming to help with.”

While at the Kansas State University Bulk Solids Innovation Center, Farnish also took a tour of the property and made recommendations on additional equipment that would assist with the efficiency and accuracy of research.

The 13,000-square-foot facility – celebrating its one-year anniversary in May – was created to promote bulk solids materials handling within undergraduate education, professional development and industry research. Two local companies, Coperion K-Tron Salina and Vortex Valves, serve as anchor occupants in the building. The vast amenities and offerings of the Kansas State University Bulk Solids Innovation Center make it the only one of its kind in North America.

For information regarding upcoming short courses, or inquiries about the center and its capabilities, contact John Lawrence, the facility’s research director, at jlawren@k-state.edu or 785-829-1110.

Nanotechnology is explored in April edition of Civic Luncheon Lecture Series

By Julee Cobb

Sometimes big things really do come in small packages.

A microscopic innovation that has the promise of significantly impacting a variety of industries is the subject of Kansas State Polytechnic’s latest Civic Luncheon Lecture of the spring semester.

Dr. Ramazan Asmatulu, from Wichita State University's nanotechnology laboratory in the Center for Innovation and Enterprise Development, will present at this month's Civic Luncheon Lecture Series.

Dr. Ramazan Asmatulu will present at this month’s Civic Luncheon Lecture Series.

Our Nanotechnology Future: Healthcare, Electronics and Manufacturing” will be presented at noon Friday, April 22 in the College Center conference room on campus. Nanotechnology is a process of manufacturing with atoms to produce new structures, materials and devices. This scientific advancement has the ability to be incorporated into sectors such as medicine, consumer products, energy, materials and manufacturing.

The lecture will feature Ramazan Asmatulu from Wichita State University’s nanotechnology laboratory in the Center for Innovation and Enterprise Development. K-State Polytechnic’s Kurt Barnhart, associate dean of research, and Saeed Kahn, associate professor of electronic and computer engineering technology, will act as moderators.

The Civic Luncheon Lecture Series is free and the public is invited. Guests may bring their lunch or buy a lunch from the cafeteria to enjoy while listening to the discussion.

The lecture series was established by Greg Stephens, associate professor of arts, sciences and business at Kansas State Polytechnic, to provide the campus and the community with an opportunity to learn about and participate in various current events impacting local issues. For more information, contact Stephens at 785-819-6887 or gregs@k-state.edu, or visit http://polytechnic.k-state.edu/civicluncheon/.

Kansas State University Bulk Solids Innovation Center welcomes experts from DuPont, Dow Chemical as part of inaugural short course

The Kansas State University Bulk Solids Innovation Center hosted more than 30 students from 12 different states during its inaugural short course Jan. 26-29, which covered the fundamentals of bulk solids processing and handling.

The Kansas State University Bulk Solids Innovation Center hosted more than 30 students from 12 different states during its inaugural short course Jan. 26-29, which covered the fundamentals of bulk solids processing and handling.

By Julee Cobb

The Kansas State University Bulk Solids Innovation Center is introducing new educational offerings for professional development and conducted its first short course Jan. 26-29, covering the fundamentals of bulk solids processing and handling.

With registration at capacity, the inaugural session hosted participants from 12 different states representing such companies as Nutrilite, Nestle, Styrolution, Green Dot and Kice Industries. The course was designed to give both new and existing employees within the particle technology field comprehensive knowledge pertaining to handling, processing, storage and flow behavior.

“Education on the science and safety of bulk solids is imperative because almost every industry has properties of particle technology,” said John Lawrence, the facility’s research director. “And after the excellent response we had to our first course, it’s evident that there is a strong demand among manufacturers to gain a better understanding of bulk solids. We are excited to be able to provide more of these learning opportunities in the near future.”

A variety of renowned experts in the field — such as Timothy Bell, an engineering fellow with DuPont; Karl Jacob, an engineering fellow from the Dow Chemical Co.; and Ben D’Alessio, director of dense phase systems at Coperion K-Tron — were brought in to lead classroom discussions and hands-on demonstrations in the center’s full-scale test laboratory. Along with an overview of pneumatic conveying, the three-and-a-half-day course also further examined challenges within the hopper. Participants were exposed to powder and solid flow problems and were shown how to prevent and mitigate a dust explosion. They also explored programmable logic controller, or PLC, technology.

The Kansas State University Bulk Solids Innovation Center plans to offer this foundational course every six months, while courses focused on more specific topics will be given throughout the year. The center’s next class, March 8-10, will specialize in pneumatic conveying of powders and bulk solids. Registration information can be found online at bulk-solids.k-state.edu/profdev/.

The 13,000-square-foot facility – officially opened in May 2015 – was created to promote bulk solids materials handling within undergraduate education, professional development and industry research. Two local companies, Coperion K-Tron Salina and Vortex Valves, serve as anchor occupants in the building. The vast amenities and offerings of the Kansas State University Bulk Solids Innovation Center make it the only one of its kind in North America.

For information regarding upcoming short courses, or inquiries about the center and its capabilities, contact Lawrence at jlawren@k-state.edu or 785-829-1110.

Research director joins Kansas State University Bulk Solids Innovation Center as its first hire

By Julee Cobb

Following an international search, John Lawrence has joined the Kansas State University Bulk Solids Innovation Center as its first research director. Lawrence, a doctorate-level agricultural engineer who specializes in food processing, specifically grain storage management, is the facility’s first hire since opening this summer.

Agricultural engineer John Lawrence is the new Kansas State University Bulk Solids Innovation Center research director.

Agricultural engineer John Lawrence is the new Kansas State University Bulk Solids Innovation Center research director.

The Kansas State University Bulk Solids Innovation Center, located in Salina, is a research, testing and educational facility dedicated to the science and understanding of bulk solids materials handling. The center is the only one of its kind in North America, housing six laboratories for university and industry-sponsored research; training, conference and lecture rooms; a material properties test lab; and a full-scale bulk solids test bay.

As a key researcher, Lawrence works to solve the movement challenges bulk solids have while passing through the hoppers, or containers, in which they are stored. Often times particles can become densified and stagnant in various spots in the hopper, preventing all the material from flowing smoothly. Lawrence’s research also will focus on finding and solving problems within particle disintegration and segregation in the pipeline during pneumatic conveying.

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