After dark: Kansas State University Polytechnic Campus approved to conduct UAS flight operations at night

By Julee Cobb

Kansas State University Polytechnic Campus has previously only been authorized to fly unmanned aircraft during the day, whether for research or in professional and undergraduate flight training. The campus has now received approval from the FAA to operate UAS after dark.

The Kansas State University Polytechnic Campus is expanding its unmanned aircraft systems capabilities to now include flight operations after dark.

Kansas State Polytechnic’s Applied Aviation Research Center, which houses the unmanned aircraft systems research program, has received approval from the Federal Aviation Administration to conduct UAS flights at night. It was granted a special waiver because flying unmanned aircraft after the sun sets is currently not permitted under the FAA’s Part 107 rule – the regulatory framework for civil and commercial small UAS operations. In addition to the campus’s research sector, the night flight waiver will be utilized in commercial flight training courses and in forthcoming curriculum in the UAS degree option.

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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 Flight Team soars at nationals with several top ten individual finishes, places 13th overall

By Julee Cobb

Members of the Kansas State Polytechnic Flight Team who competed at the National Intercollegiate Flying Association SAFECON National Championship pose with their individual awards, from left: Christopher Pennington, Christopher Jansen, Matthew Katzke, Maddie Perry, Nicholas Terrapin, Jacob Mitchell, Caleb Strahm, Chris Messing, Brendan Borcherding, Brian Kimani, and Jason Rohlf.

The flight team on the Kansas State University Polytechnic Campus has landed several individual awards and an overall 13th place finish after competing at the National Intercollegiate Flying Association, or NIFA, Safety and Flight Evaluation Conference, or SAFECON, National Championship.

Held May 9-14 this year at Ohio State University, the annual competition brings together the top collegiate aviation teams from across the country to battle it out in a variety of tests both on the ground and in the air. Competing against 27 other colleges and universities made up of more than 250 aviators, the Kansas State Polytechnic Flight Team scored four Top 10 awards in individual events: first in message drop, third in certified flight instructor, third in instrument simulated flight and eighth in crew resource management/line oriented flight training. Additionally, the team placed 13th overall and senior Chris Messing won Regional Top Pilot.

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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 UAS professor keynote speaker at Kansas Natural Resources conference

By Julee Cobb

Another industry is seeing the potential of unmanned aircraft systems and has asked a professor at Kansas State University’s Polytechnic Campus to serve as educator on the possible applications.

David Burchfield, a teaching assistant professor in the UAS program at Kansas State Polytechnic, was the keynote speaker at the 2017 Kansas Natural Resources GIS Technical Meeting on April 6.

David Burchfield, a teaching assistant professor in the UAS program at Kansas State Polytechnic, was the keynote speaker at the 2017 Kansas Natural Resources GIS Technical Meeting on April 6. Burchfield, who specializes in UAS remote sensing data acquisition and processing, presented to geographic information systems, or GIS, professionals from across the state. His discussion, titled “Unmanned Aircraft Systems as a Geospatial Tool for Natural Resources,” explored how UAS, or drones, can be valuably utilized in GIS mapping and data collection.

“Professionals in this industry are often looking for new ways to collect aerial data that can be incorporated into geographic information systems for many different purposes, and UAS represent an exciting, low cost approach to collecting that data,” said Burchfield.

The conference, now in its second year, is a venue for GIS professionals in natural resources conservation to collaborate on potential projects, share technical knowledge, build professional and organizational relationships and learn from other natural resources GIS professionals. Along with Burchfield giving the gathering’s keynote address, there were also a variety of presenters from state, federal, tribal, local and non-governmental organizations.

“We really enjoyed having David give the keynote at our meeting,” said Erika Stanley, a representative from the Kansas Water Office. “We asked him to speak because unmanned aircraft systems is receiving a lot of attention in the GIS field and they have so many potential applications. David’s expertise in the use of UAS platforms for the collection of natural resource data and his experience with forestry applications in Kansas was spot on for the audience of this meeting.”

Prior to arriving at Kansas State Polytechnic, Burchfield worked as an image analyst, GIS specialist and UAS pilot for AgPixel in Des Moines, Iowa, creating aerial map products primarily for the agricultural industry. He holds a bachelor’s degree in geography from Brigham Young University and a master’s in geography from K-State, where he was involved with a multidisciplinary team of scientists that was exploring agricultural and natural resources applications of UAS-based remote sensing. Also while he was a K-State graduate student, Burchfield worked at the Kansas Forest Service in Manhattan as their GIS specialist.

To learn more about Kansas State Polytechnic’s UAS academic degree options, contact the option coordinator, Michael Most at 785-826-2681 or mtmost@ksu.edu. For professional training offerings, including customizable courses, contact the campus’s professional education and outreach office at 785-826-2633 or profed@k-state.edu. To inquire about UAS opportunities with the Applied Aviation Research Center, contact Kurt Carraway, UAS executive director of Kansas State University’s Applied Aviation Research Center, at 785-826-7170 or kcarraway@k-state.edu.

Kansas State Polytechnic’s UAS program expands Part 107 short course to Dallas, May 12-14

By Julee Cobb

Travis Balthazor, UAS flight operations manager for Kansas State University’s Applied Aviation Research Center, prepares students for the written FAA exam during a Part 107 training course.

The nationally ranked unmanned aircraft systems program on Kansas State University’s Polytechnic Campus is taking its Part 107 preparation course on the road and heading south.

Designed to help professionals successfully complete the Federal Aviation Administration’s new remote pilot in command certification, Kansas State Polytechnic is offering a UAS commercial pilot training course in Dallas from Friday, May 12, through Sunday, May 14. It will focus specifically on preparing attendees to pass the FAA’s Part 107 written test, which is required for anyone who wants to operate an unmanned aircraft for commercial purposes and does not have a manned pilot certificate. The UAS commercial pilot training course complements the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International’s annual conference, called AUVSI Xponential 2017, which is in Dallas earlier that week.

“Since the UAS program was established on K-State’s Polytechnic Campus 10 years ago, it’s been aim toward helping broaden the commercialization of the industry, so expanding our reach to another state is a significant contribution to that goal,” said Kurt Carraway, UAS executive director of Kansas State University’s Applied Aviation Research Center, which is on the Polytechnic Campus. “This course is perfect for any professional who wants to fly an unmanned aircraft for commercial operations and needs to pass the FAA’s Part 107 exam because it explores complex topics covered in the test that those outside the aviation industry might not understand. It also provides a personalized experience where interested UAS operators can connect with our program experts and have their questions answered immediately.”

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Kansas State Polytechnic’s Civic Luncheon Lecture Series to feature presentation on Muslims in American society

By Julee Cobb

Moussa Elbayoumy, co-founder and current board chairman of the Kansas chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, will lead a presentation on “Muslims in American Society” at the Kansas State University Polytechnic Campus on April 13.

Exploring Muslim culture and its contributions to the United States will be the focus of the latest Civic Luncheon Lecture Series offered by Kansas State University’s Polytechnic Campus.

The presentation, “Muslims in American Society,” will feature speaker Moussa Elbayoumy at noon Thursday, April 13 in the campus’s College Center conference room. Elbayoumy is the co-founder and current board chairman of the Kansas chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations – the nation’s largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. Elbayoumy will lead a discussion on the country’s current environment and how it’s impacting the Muslim community as well as notable Muslim contributions to America’s history and modern society. Gerald Gillespie, a retired professor and current member of the Spirituality Resource Center of Salina, will act as moderator.

Elbayoumy is a native of Egypt and graduated from Ain Shams University, a medical school, in Cairo in 1980. He also holds a master’s degree in healthcare administration from the University of Maryland and along with his activist role, is the president and CEO of Healthcare Innovations Consultants, Inc. Prior to starting his medical advisory practice in 2012, Elbayoumy worked for numerous hospitals, particularly in the cardiovascular arena, including serving as director of cardiology at the Washington Hospital Center in Washington, D.C.; director of the St. Francis Heart and Vascular Institute in Topeka; and vice president of heart and vascular services at Adventist Healthcare in Rockville, Maryland.

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. For more information on the series, contact Stephens at 785-819-6887 or gregs@k-state.edu.