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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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.

 

Terri Gaeddert joins Kansas State Polytechnic as director of academic operations

By Julee Cobb

Terri Gaeddert, former associate dean and director of teacher education at Sterling College, has been named the first-ever director of academic operations for the Kansas State University Polytechnic Campus.

Terri Gaeddert, former associate dean and director of teacher education at Sterling College, has been named the first-ever director of academic operations for the Kansas State University Polytechnic Campus.

With a continued focus on enhancing the student experience, Kansas State University’s Polytechnic Campus has hired its first-ever director of academic operations.

Terri Gaeddert, former associate dean and director of teacher education at Sterling College, has been selected for the new role and is charged specifically with strengthening program collaboration under the campus’ recently implemented School of Integrated Studies. She also will streamline course schedules, mentor faculty and improve faculty resourcing. The creation of the position, which Gaeddert began in January, is a part of Kansas State Polytechnic’s vision of providing an environment centered around experiential learning and cost-effective education.

“We are thrilled to welcome Dr. Gaeddert as the inaugural director of academic operations on the Polytechnic Campus. Along with an indisputable passion for higher education, she brings years of valuable expertise and a fresh perspective that will help lead the School of Integrated Studies and our commitment to offering students relevant education with a strong experimental component,” said Verna Fitzsimmons, dean and CEO of Kansas State Polytechnic.

In fall 2016, the campus established the School of Integrated Studies after it was approved by the Kansas Board of Regents the year before. The new academic alignment allows programs and faculty to no longer be separated by department, but to be organized together under the director of academic operations. One of Gaeddert’s primary roles is to help faculty utilize the collective structure to generate synergy among the programs — integrating different disciplines so students will receive additional skills and knowledge relatable to their majors.

Gaeddert also will develop a two-year rotation of courses, ensuring every course in a major is offered at least once within a two-year window. This will provide all students — bachelor’s degree-seeking students, transfer students and students with an associate degree pursing a bachelor’s degree — the opportunity to complete their endeavors in a timely manner, which will bolster cost savings. In addition, Gaeddert will implement scheduling efficiencies for faculty so they can spend more time with students, performing research and connecting with the community.

“My teaching philosophy is based around the three R’s: relationships, relevance and rigor. One of the reasons this position stood out is because the polytechnic, or hands-on, approach this campus values encompasses those elements,” said Gaeddert. “Knowledge and understanding is only the beginning; it’s those that are able to apply, do and create using their knowledge that will be heavily sought after. I look forward to working with the faculty at Kanas State Polytechnic as they continue to cultivate an experience-driven atmosphere for their students.”

A native of Ogallala, Nebraska, Gaeddert has a doctorate in educational leadership from Wichita State University, a master’s in teaching from Friends University in Wichita and a bachelor’s in mathematics and computer science from Chadron State College in Chadron, Nebraska. Most recently, she served as the associate dean of Sterling College as well as its director of teacher education for four years. Gaeddert also worked in high schools as a teacher and technology specialist, wrote curriculum and problem-solving tests for the Kansas State Education Department, and has served on a number of Kansas teacher education committees.

Partners Kansas State Polytechnic, Westar Energy advance electric utility inspection and maintenance methods with drone technology

By Julee Cobb

The unmanned aircraft systems program on Kansas State University's Polytechnic Campus is working with industry partner Westar Energy to integrate drone technology into the electric utility industry.

The unmanned aircraft systems program on Kansas State University’s Polytechnic Campus is working with industry partner Westar Energy on integrating drone technology into the electric utility sector.

Kansas State University’s Polytechnic Campus and Kansas-based power company Westar Energy are propelling the electric utility industry forward by innovating inspection and maintenance methodologies with drone technology.

With a focus on increasing reliability for customers, improving employee safety and reducing costs, Kansas State Polytechnic’s unmanned aircraft systems program and Westar Energy have been collaborating over the past year to integrate unmanned aircraft into the power company’s services. The partners, whose relationship dates back to 2013, have been working to establish an in-house UAS team at Westar Energy as well as redefine inspection and maintenance techniques using unmanned aircraft — often referred to as drones — for transmission lines, power plant boilers and electrical substations.

“One of our program’s strategic objectives has been to help introduce UAS technology to the commercial market, and we are proud to have Westar Energy as a partner because this collaborative relationship is a win-win for both of our interests,” said Kurt Carraway, executive director of the UAS program on K-State’s Polytechnic Campus. “The opportunity to assist Westar Energy in building an organic UAS program from the ground up has been tremendously rewarding for us — we get to learn about the power industry while helping Westar Energy provide first-class service to its valuable customer base. We look forward to continuing this developmental work.”

Westar Energy has implemented this technology in the day-to-day inspection of thousands of miles of transmission lines and utility towers that run across Kansas. UAS platforms capture imagery of the structures to identify needed replacements and inspect completed repairs. The standard procedure for all power companies has been employees either using binoculars to examine the lines and towers, or riding lifts high into the air —which can be dangerous.

Staff members of Kansas State Polytechnic's UAS program fly a drone with a Westar Energy employee practicing new inspection techniques of transmission lines.

Staff members of Kansas State Polytechnic’s UAS program fly a drone with a Westar Energy employee practicing new inspection techniques of transmission lines.

Westar Energy has a team of employees who have completed multirotor and fixed-wing training at Kansas State Polytechnic and lead the power company’s internal UAS division. Together with Kansas State Polytechnic, 3-D mapping of substations and boiler inspections also have been explored. The Kansas State Polytechnic UAS program has assisted Westar Energy’s UAS program with developing and testing protocols, providing additional flight instruction and creating operational guides for these new areas with UAS technology.

“Our UAS program saves money for customers by making our operations more efficient and our work safer. It also makes our service more reliable,” said Jason Klenklen, supervisor of transmission maintenance for Westar Energy. “We can use UAS or drones to identify struggling equipment before it causes an outage. Drones also make it safer and faster to inspect lines in difficult-to-reach areas when crews are locating the cause of a power outage.”

With photogrammetry, Westar Energy can generate authentic images, 3-D maps and drawings with accurate measurements of their substations so maintenance in a specific area can be outlined ahead of time instead of in the field where space can be compact and precarious. Westar Energy employees have been trained how to set up an autonomous flight plan, which is necessary for the camera on the UAS platform to take photos based on either time or distance, as well as how to execute the mission to ensure quality data.

Kansas State Polytechnic and Westar Energy’s most recent exploration has been focused on using unmanned aircraft to inspect boilers. The use of UAS inside a boiler reduces risks to personnel while allowing assessments to be conducted in an efficient and timely manner.

“Incorporating UAS, or drones, into the inspection process of boilers adds an element of safety. It allows employees to view the internal components of the boiler through real time imagery captured by a drone while securely staying on the outside,” said Sam Sharp, a researcher in the Kansas State Polytechnic UAS Laboratory and Westar Energy’s primary liaison. “Because there are no lights inside the boiler and a GPS signal is not accessible, extensive training is needed to control the aircraft. This is one of the most valuable applications of a drone within the energy sector, so the lengthy training is worth it.”

the Smoky Hills UAS Pavilion

The Smoky Hill UAS Pavilion was built in part by Westar Energy and is housed on the Polytechnic Campus. It measures 300-feet-long by 200-feet-wide and is 50-feet-tall, providing a space for accessible flight training and research.

In October 2015, Westar Energy and Kansas State Polytechnic collaborated on opening one of the largest enclosed unmanned flight facilities in the nation. Built on the Polytechnic Campus, it measures 300-feet-long by 200-feet-wide and 50-feet-tall, and employs 25 wooden poles donated and installed by Westar Energy as well as custom fabricated netting panels on all sides and across the top. The structure, called the Smoky Hill UAS Pavilion, provides a space for accessible flight training and research for students, staff and faculty in addition to outside industries for company instruction and short courses.

Kansas State Polytechnic is recognized as having the No. 2 UAS program in the nation by Drone Training HQ. The program, which began almost 10 years ago, consists of a bachelor’s degree with two focus areas — UAS flight and operations and UAS design and integration — as well as a UAS minor, research and flight operations. Kansas State Polytechnic was the first entity in the United States to be awarded statewide access for unmanned flight operations by the FAA and is a member of the FAA Center of Excellence for Unmanned Aircraft Systems.

Westar Energy provides electricity to about 700,000 homes and businesses in the eastern third of Kansas. In early 2017, Westar will provide about half the electricity needs of its retail customers from emission-free sources.

To inquire about possible research collaborations between Kansas State Polytechnic’s UAS program and your company, contact Carraway at 785-826-2624 or kcarraway@ksu.edu. To learn more about Westar Energy’s UAS division or its general services, contact Klenklen at 785-575-8187.

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.

Kansas State Polytechnic expands learning fleet with four new Beechcraft Bonanza aircraft

By Julee Cobb

The aviation program at Kansas State University's Polytechnic Campus is expanding its learning fleet with the addition of four new Beechcraft Bonanza G36 aircraft.

The aviation program at Kansas State University’s Polytechnic Campus is expanding its learning fleet with the addition of four new Beechcraft Bonanza G36 aircraft.

The aviation program at Kansas State University’s Polytechnic Campus is enhancing its students’ flying experience with the addition of new aircraft to its fleet.

Kansas State Polytechnic has purchased a quartet of Beechcraft Bonanza G36 aircraft from longtime university partner Textron Aviation as part of its plan to continuously provide professional pilot majors with the most relevant and cutting-edge flight training possible. The new planes arrived intermittently throughout 2015 and 2016, with the final delivery in mid-October. Kansas State Polytechnic’s aviation program is now outfitted with 34 learning aircraft, all of which are Textron Aviation products.

“For more than 50 years, this campus has been offering innovative aviation education and it is important that we continue that rich tradition with an investment in our students’ future,” said Verna Fitzsimmons, dean and CEO of Kansas State Polytechnic. “We are proud to add the Bonanza G36 to our fleet family because its state-of-the-art technology and amenities are exactly what students will experience professionally, preparing them for a successful transition from college to career.”

“Kansas State Polytechnic continues to be a strong partner for Textron Aviation and we are thrilled they have selected Textron Aviation products to modernize their flight training fleet,” said Doug May, vice president, Piston Aircraft. “The Beechcraft Bonanza will provide the students a modern and sophisticated training platform to advance their skills. We are excited to continue building our relationship with the university to support the next generation of aviators.”

Doug May, vice president of Piston Aircraft at Textron Aviation, officially presents Verna Fitzsimmons, dean and CEO of Kansas State Polytechnic, with the keys to the aviation program's fourth Beechcraft Bonanza G36 aircraft.

Doug May, vice president of Piston Aircraft at Textron Aviation, officially presents Verna Fitzsimmons, dean and CEO of Kansas State Polytechnic, with the keys to the aviation program’s fourth Beechcraft Bonanza G36 aircraft.

The Bonanza G36 aircraft, which are being used primarily in the aviation program for commercial and certified flight instructor, or CFI, ratings, feature a Garmin G1000 avionics system that aids situational awareness, simplicity and safety in the cockpit. They also are equipped with the satellite-based surveillance system ADS-B, which broadcasts an airplane’s location to air traffic control as well as other nearby airplanes that are outfitted with the technology. An FAA requirement of all aircraft by Jan. 1, 2020, ADS-B gives the professional pilot students increased awareness by alerting them to approaching aircraft and is another component they will use in industry.

Zach Davis, Hutchinson, who graduated from Kansas State Polytechnic with a bachelor’s degree in professional pilot in May, is now a CFI for the aviation program and believes the students he is teaching are getting a well-rounded experience when flying the G36.

“An early variant of the Beechcraft Bonanza was first produced in the late 1940s, so students are getting to fly a solid aircraft with a well-established track record,” said Davis. “Beyond its prestige, the brand-new planes give students increased reliability and current technology found in the commercial and corporate world. And because the G36 is a high performance aircraft, it trains students to think ahead and make smart decisions more quickly.”

“I think the Bonanza G36 offers our students a more diverse and advanced aircraft that many other schools are not able to provide for training,” said Austin Bally, Wichita, a senior in professional pilot, captain of the campus’s flight team and a CFI. “Having G36s in our fleet introduce students to a more complicated aircraft early in their training, giving them the confidence and experience needed to fly complex aircraft in their careers.”

Along with the boost in its fleet, Kansas State Polytechnic’s aviation program will be upgrading a portion of its flight center. Textron Aviation recently donated $150,000 to modernize the Certified Flight Instructor Lab. The renovation will increase the area’s square footage, creating more workspace for flight instructors and a better learning environment for students enrolled in the program.

Kansas State Polytechnic also was recently approved as a Cessna Pilot Center, one of only five in the state of Kansas. Cessna Aircraft Company is a subsidiary of Textron Aviation Inc.

To learn more about Kansas State Polytechnic’s aviation program, including its professional pilot, airport management, aviation maintenance management, and unmanned aircraft systems bachelor’s degrees, contact admissions at 785-826-2640 or polytechnic@k-state.edu. For more information on Textron Aviation products, visit txtav.com.

Textron Aviation makes $150,000 gift to Kansas State Polytechnic

Textron Aviation is further strengthening its relationship with Kansas State University through a $150,000 donation to help the Kansas State University Polytechnic Campus modernize its aviation program in the sky and on the ground.

Textron Aviation’s generosity will dramatically increase the square footage of the Certified Flight Instructor, or CFI, Lab, creating more workspace for flight instructors and a better learning environment for students enrolled in the program. This will strongly impact student recruitment at Kansas State Polytechnic and the future of the aviation industry.

The Powercat logo also will be featured on the hood of the Textron Aviation NASCAR for the race Sunday, Oct. 16, at the Kansas Speedway, another example of Textron Aviation’s continued support for the university.

“We’ve had a long relationship with K-State and we look forward to deepening our ties as the school continues training the next generation,” said Doug May, vice president of Piston Aircraft at Textron Aviation. “The modernization of the CFI Lab will not only provide a more functional learning environment and workspace, it will be instrumental in the recruitment and retention of Kansas State Polytechnic students.”

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