Purple goes green: Kansas State Polytechnic adds renewable energy to campus

By Kimberly Bird

A new wind turbine and solar panels have been installed at Kansas State University Polytechnic Campus. The additions will help the campus become more energy efficient.

Kansas State University Polytechnic Campus cut the ribbon on a new wind turbine and solar panels on Nov. 8.

The energy-efficient additions to campus are outside of the Student Life Center. The building will see the benefit of the alternative energy production, while the campus now has the first pieces in place for its goal to become more energy efficient and increase its sustainable energy production.

Continue reading

Kansas State University Polytechnic Campus welcomes new executive director of enrollment management and marketing

Christopher Smith has been named the new executive director of enrollment management and marketing at Kansas State University Polytechnic Campus.

By Julee Cobb

Kansas State University Polytechnic Campus has hired a new leader to transform prospective students into Wildcats.

Christopher Smith, former director of admissions for two DeVry University locations, joins Kansas State Polytechnic as the new executive director of enrollment management and marketing. Smith, from McPherson, started his role at the beginning of October and is tasked with supervising the operations of both the admissions and communications and marketing offices. His primary focus is on increasing brand awareness and creating new recruiting strategies, with an overall objective of growing enrollment.

“We are proud to welcome Dr. Smith and his years of experience in student recruitment to the Polytechnic Campus,” said Verna Fitzsimmons, dean and CEO of Kansas State Polytechnic. “His extensive knowledge of the consultative approach to enrollment, which centralizes the student experience, aligns perfectly with our campus’s polytechnic approach to education. It will be exciting to watch Dr. Smith’s fresh perspective and new ideas elevate our engagement with potential Wildcats.”

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

K-State Polytechnic to be part of Kansas Air Tour

Kansas State University’s Polytechnic Campus is to be part of the 2017 Fly Kansas Air Tour. It takes off from Wellington on Thursday, September 28, for a three-day, 10-city celebration of Kansas aviation. This year’s tour is presented by the Kansas Commission on Aerospace Education and the Kansas Department of Transportation and will promote STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) education as well as highlight the benefits of local airports in Kansas.

Stop by the local airports listed below to visit K-State Polytechnic and see planes up close and talk to pilots to learn about the role of aviation in Kansas.

The tour is scheduled to visit the following airports:



  • 8 a.m.             Aircraft Arrival
  • 10:30 a.m.     Departure


  • 12:30 p.m.     Aircraft Arrival
  • 2:30 p.m.       Departure

Dodge City

  • 3:30 p.m.        Aircraft Arrival
  • 4:30 p.m.        Departure


  • 5:30 p.m.        Aircraft Arrival



  • 10:00 a.m.     Departure


  • 11:00 a.m.     Aircraft Arrival
  • 1:00 p.m.        Departure


  • 2:15 p.m.        Aircraft Arrival
  • 4:00 p.m.        Departure

New Century

  • 4:30 p.m.        Aircraft Arrival


 New Century

  • 9:30 a.m.       Departure


  • 10:30 a.m.     Aircraft Arrival
  • 12:30 p.m.     Departure


  • 1 p.m.             Aircraft Arrival
  • 3 p.m.             Departure


  • 4 p.m.             Aircraft Arrival

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.

Continue reading

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 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’s Civic Luncheon Lecture Series to explore First Amendment rights

By Julee Cobb

Stephen Wolgast, assistant professor of journalism and digital media at Kansas State University, will lead a presentation on "Free Speech in Times of Crisis" at the Kansas State University Polytechnic Campus on Feb. 16.

Stephen Wolgast, assistant professor of journalism and digital media at Kansas State University, will lead a presentation on “Free Speech in Times of Crisis” at the Kansas State University Polytechnic Campus on Feb. 16.

In a time where the legitimacy of news and journalism is being challenged and freedom of speech as a whole has taken center stage in the public eye, Kansas State University’s Polytechnic Campus will explore the principles of the country’s First Amendment in its latest Civic Luncheon Lecture Series.

“Free Speech in Times of Crisis” will be presented at noon Thursday, Feb. 16, at Kansas State Polytechnic’s College Center conference room. Stephen Wolgast, assistant professor of journalism and digital media at Kansas State University, will lead the discussion. Bob Protzman, general manager of Rocking M Media, will act as the moderator.

The First Amendment grants U.S. citizens the right to express their opinions, including times when society is under stress. This presentation will look at the reasons free speech is protected and provide current examples of how it’s being questioned. Wolgast, who previously worked in newspaper journalism for 19 years, including nine years as an editor at The New York Times, also will cover the topics of news bias and the popularity of the term “fake news.”

“One of the jobs the press has is to hold a mirror to society,” Wolgast said. “That’s why we have to report on the failings of government and institutions, even if it upsets the powers that be. If the press can motivate people to act when things aren’t going well, then by one measure the press has succeeded.”

The Civic Luncheon Lecture Series is free and the public is invited. Attendees are welcome to eat during the discussion, and can bring their own lunch or purchase a lunch at the K-State Café and then bring their tray into the conference room.

Greg Stephens, an associate professor of communication and business management at Kansas State Polytechnic, created the Civic Luncheon Lecture Series to provide the campus and the community with an opportunity to learn about and participate in various current events impacting local issues. This presentation, in particular, is made possible in part by the Kansas Humanities Council. For more information on the series, contact Stephens at 785-819-6887 or gregs@k-state.edu.