Kansas State Polytechnic names physics professor Richard Zajac winner of Marchbanks Memorial Award for Teaching Excellence

Physics professor Richard Zajac is the 2015 recipient of the Marchbanks Memorial Award for Teaching Excellence at Kansas State Polytechnic.

Physics professor Richard Zajac is the 2015 recipient of the Marchbanks Memorial Award for Teaching Excellence at Kansas State Polytechnic.

Physics professor Richard Zajac, who has served the Kansas State University Polytechnic Campus for 20 years, is the 2015 recipient of the prestigious Marchbanks Memorial Award for Teaching Excellence. Established more than 30 years ago by the Marchbanks family, the award annually recognizes a Kansas State Polytechnic faculty member’s commitment in the classroom, service to students and overall merit as a teacher.

One of the biggest driving forces behind Zajac’s nomination is his dedicated approach to education – bringing physics to life through fun and relatable hands-on assignments. Zajac serves as both the classroom professor and lab technician on campus, which can be uncommon at other universities. This allows him to create a seamless transition between the two learning spaces, connecting his lecture material with engaging experiments.

“Because I’m a part of every aspect of each lab project – from the design to setup and repair – I can help students identify problems within a project and use that glitch as a guided opportunity,” said Zajac. “This creates a natural learning experience and makes physics real.”

Born in Montréal, Québec, Zajac’s first acquaintance with physics came in secondary school when his family purchased a home computer. Ever the tinkerer, Zajac enjoyed disassembling things and then putting them back together again, which worked out well during a time when technology asked more of the user than it does today.

“Computer programs in this era aren’t something you write; you download them and expect them to work,” said Zajac. “But when I was growing up, if you wanted to program a video game, you had to learn the physics behind it so that you could make the computer do it.”

From that point on, physics became Zajac’s career compass. He received his bachelor’s degree in the field at McGill University in Montréal and decided to continue his education in computational physics. The move from Canada to Kansas came when Kansas State University was the only institution he could find that offered the graduate program he wanted.

Zajac moved to Manhattan, Kansas in 1992 where he became a teaching assistant while researching his doctorate degree. During that time, he also met his wife and the two now have six children: a 19-year-old, 17-year-old triplets and twins that are 15.

In his final year of graduate school at K-State, Zajac discovered an open position in physics at Kansas State Polytechnic. He was excited about the job because a smaller campus meant he could get to know his students and connect with them in all aspects of learning. He was hired in 1996 under the agreement he would complete his doctorate degree, which he did a year later.

Along with providing experiential learning to college students, Zajac enjoys working with the same age group that he was when he first explored physics. For the last five years, he has been a professional mentor to the Salina South Middle School robotics team. He also assists with Science Olympiad every year, which is held on the polytechnic campus, and teaches engineering physics during the summer on the Manhattan campus.

Zajac previously has won another significant Kansas State Polytechnic award – the Rex McArthur Family Faculty Fellow in 2013. He finds the recognition validating and encouraging because that means faculty and students alike acknowledge his teaching methods and ability to inspire in a field that isn’t a core program of the campus.

“A physics degree is not offered on our campus,” said Zajac, “so the fact that I can make students appreciate a course they’re only taking because they have to, that’s gratifying to me.”

Aviation professor Jimmy Splichal receives Kansas State Polytechnic’s prestigious McArthur Award

By Julee Cobb

Aviation professor Jimmy Splichal, who has been a faculty member at Kansas State University Polytechnic Campus for 15 years, has been named the recipient of the Rex McArthur Family Faculty Fellow Award for the 2015 school year.

Jimmy Splichal, who has served Kansas State Polytechnic for 15 years in the aviation department, has been awarded the campus's McArthur Family Faculty Fellow for 2015.

Jimmy Splichal, who has served Kansas State Polytechnic for 15 years in the aviation department, has been awarded the campus’s McArthur Family Faculty Fellow for 2015.

Splichal was nominated for the award because of his dedication to students – he has been Academic Advisor of the Year three times and was named Kansas State Polytechnic Professor of the Year in 2010. He has a particular connection with students who are former military, assisting with the establishment of the Student Veterans Association on campus and acting as the group’s mentor.

The McArthur distinction is presented each year to a Kansas State Polytechnic faculty member who has demonstrated teaching excellence; a commitment to research; and honorable service to the university, college and community. The McArthur family, longtime residents of the area, established the award to support education in Salina.

Before arriving at Kansas State Polytechnic in 2000, Splichal served in the Army for 23 years as an instructor pilot and then continued his love for aviation flying air ambulance at the University of Nebraska Medical Center. During his eight years in Omaha, Splichal also was a part-time professor at the Embry-Riddle satellite campus located on an Air Force base in the city. In each of his positions, the one common thread has always been helicopters.

“I really enjoy the art of hovering,” said Splichal about his 40-year history with the aircraft. “When I enlisted in the Army, airplanes were boring to me. I was more interested in the complexity of hovering in an helicopter while being sent on important missions.”

During a time when the nation imposed a military lottery on young men, Splichal was in college working toward a degree in physical education and his dream of being a football coach. After deferring from the draft a few times because of his enrollment at a university, Splichal was called up in 1969 to fight in the Vietnam War. He knew he didn’t want to tote a gun, so he found another option in flying. Splichal completed basic training in Fort Polk, Louisiana; began helicopter training in Fort Wolters, Texas; and finished his instruction in Fort Rucker, Alabama.

Once Splichal retired from the Army, he was adamant about passing his skills, knowledge and life experiences along to students. Because he was a Kansas kid – Splichal grew up in the tiny, north central town of Munden – his hope was to become an aviation instructor close to home at Kansas State Polytechnic.

“It was always my goal to teach in the aviation program at K-State,” said Splichal. “Even though I found a job flying air ambulance, I was constantly on the lookout for positions opening up on the Salina campus and I periodically sent in my resume.”

After getting his foot in the door with Embry-Riddle, Splichal was hired by Kansas State Polytechnic at the turn of the 21st century as a professor for junior and senior level aviation science classes. He was a flight instructor in the helicopter program for three years and helped lead the airport management program from its establishment in 2011 to 2015.

“The greatest joy I get from teaching is when a student comes into my office and tells me about their successes – a scholarship they were awarded or an internship or job they were chosen for,” said Splichal. “I’ve recently put in for phased retirement because I know it’s time to do other things, but I will truly miss the opportunity to make a difference in students’ lives.”

Splichal plans to spend more time with his family after he retires from teaching. He and wife Barbara Joyce (Chaloupka) have three children: Amanda, Matthew and Christopher, who is a major in the Army. The couple also has six grandchildren.

Splichal holds a bachelor’s degree in professional aeronautics and a master of aeronautical science, both from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.

The gift of flight: Kansas State Polytechnic offers hobbyists UAS flight safety instruction as holiday drone sales expected to rise

By Julee Cobb

Kansas State Polytechnic's UAS program is offering a half-day flight safety instruction course for hobbyists on Jan. 23, 2016.

Kansas State Polytechnic’s UAS program is offering a half-day flight safety instruction course for hobbyists on Jan. 23, 2016.

As the estimated number of unmanned aircraft systems owners is expected to dramatically grow this holiday season, the UAS program at Kansas State University Polytechnic Campus is offering a half-day course specifically for hobbyists to ensure proper use and safety.

Kansas State Polytechnic’s inaugural UAS Multirotor Hobby course will be Saturday, Jan. 23, 2016, on campus. Content will focus on two areas: classroom education on the Federal Aviation Administration’s rules and regulations for hobby applications of small UAS, and personal flight instruction with the program’s aviation experts in the newly built flying pavilion. The entire course will run three hours and will equip participants with essential knowledge needed to fly judiciously and confidently as hobbyists in the national airspace system.

“We take safe flight operations very seriously and one of the cornerstones of safety is education,” said Kurt Carraway, Kansas State Polytechnic’s acting UAS program manager. “While it’s exciting that interest in unmanned aircraft systems is flourishing, we feel it’s important to help hobbyists understand the regulatory framework associated with UAS and to allow us to provide some safe operating tips. We’re thrilled to be able to offer our experience and the campus’s innovative technology to make a positive impact on hobby operations.”

To continue reading, click here.

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.

To continue reading, click here.

In Memoriam: Kansas State Polytechnic honors former president, professor and campus innovator Tom Creech

By Julee Cobb

Creech-Memorial-squareBe positive. Believe in yourself. Think ahead to get ahead. Don’t look back lest you fall back. People are the reason for progress – love them, encourage them, believe in them. No matter how frail they seem to be or how many faults they have, think of their potential and help them achieve that.

When Rick Zajac started his journey as a professor of physics at Kansas State Polytechnic in 1996, the first lesson of his campus career ironically was taught to him instead of his students. Zajac walked into his new office in the Science Center to find the above message written on a blackboard in the space. The memo was honest and straightforward, almost simplistic in nature, yet contained advice so powerful it has stayed with Zajac to this day.

The counsel was that of Tom Creech ­– one of the founding fathers of the campus, the property’s third president and an engineering technology professor. Creech retired in 1996 and wanted to ensure the intrinsic values that had made the campus so successful were preserved and performed by the next generation. So Creech scribbled his 30 years worth of real life know-how into those six points, hoping his office successor would be inspired. Zajac got the message.

Creech has left many impressions on both past and present members of the Kansas State Polytechnic campus. Ask anyone about his contributions, and there is a consensus among the answers: Creech dedicated his life to education and was committed to investing in people – both students and faculty – to create the best learning experience possible.

“Tom always arranged his priorities to put our college at the top of the list,” said David Delker, a 1973 graduate of then Kansas Technical Institute, professor and associate dean emeritus. “His determination and enthusiasm laid the groundwork for a very successful institution and his influence continues to be with us today.”

On Nov. 15, a little more than 50 years after Creech helped establish the now Kansas State Polytechnic campus, he passed away at 84 years old. News of his death has had a lasting affect across the campus, in alumni circles and on members of the Salina community.

“I appreciate all that Tom accomplished for the stability of the college and the success of the graduates,” said Ken Barnard, a former student in the airframe and powerplant program at KTI and aviation department head during the K-State Salina years. “History is a valuable asset if one will only take the time to recognize who we are is in large part because of where we once were.”

To further understand Creech’s impact, it’s important to travel back to the mid 1960s. Creech, at that time, was a faculty member at Kansas State University in Manhattan. He and his colleague, Hank Neely, had been tasked with designing a degree program for a potential engineering technology college. Creech and Neely met with Col. Mike Scanlan who was commander at Schilling Air Force Base in Salina. The previous year the base had been ordered closed and both Creech and Neely were hoping to use some of their equipment and space for the engineering technology college.

Once the Kansas Legislature approved House Bill 1101, Creech and Neely’s months of hard work, research, dreaming and scheming came to fruition with the establishment of Schilling Institute on April 26, 1965. Creech was appointed as the campus’s inaugural director of academic affairs while Neely became the first president. Before the college even opened, Creech, along with other newly hired faculty and staff, put in sweat equity acting as carpenters, electricians, plumbers and painters to make the buildings and barracks suitable for students.

The campus would see additional transitions throughout its history, changing from Schilling Institute to Kansas Technical Institute in 1969; then to Kansas College of Technology in 1988; K-State Salina in 1991; and finally its current identity, Kansas State Polytechnic, this year. Though those name transformations have been necessary to the livelihood of the campus – staying relevant in an educational world that is always developing and undoubtedly competitive – the principle of providing hands-on learning and professional programs that students will immediately find success with in industry has remained the same. And this is a standard Creech initiated and held during his 30 years of service to the campus.

From Zajac, he tells of an old lab report he found that Tom had written to his students to help them better understand the process of experiments and their results; from Barnard, the explicit message that when Tom was president, he knew just how important active learning is to the aviation program, approving the purchase of essential lab equipment and six flyable TH-55 helicopters to improve the student experience; and from Larry Farmer, a 30-year electronics engineering professor and department head on the campus, a rave about Tom’s commitment to modernity, opening the Technology Center in 1985 – the property’s first new building since its educational inception.

In an interview with Creech last spring during a celebration of the campus’s fiftieth anniversary, Creech was adamant about his admiration for the property and how much content he felt about its trajectory over the years.

“I still think very highly of the campus and I’m interested in watching the process,” said Creech. “What K-State’s Salina campus is today is the vision of what we started with in 1965.”

With Creech’s passing, there is a sadness that comes knowing a pillar of the campus’s foundation is gone. Yet, when a legacy is built as strong, impactful and dynamic as Creech constructed his, the feeling of loss is only temporary, as his footprint will be etched into the success of Kansas State Polytechnic forever.

Reminisce about Tom Creech along with current and former members of the campus: 

About two or three weeks after I started as dean and CEO, Tom showed up in my office because he wanted to personally share the history of the campus with me. He even debunked the story floating around about how the president of Schilling Institute was decided. Even though the rumors said Tom had lost a coin toss to Hank Neely, Tom really didn’t want the foundational presidency. The real story was less “glamorous” than the rumor, so they both let it go!

Verna Fitzsimmons, Kansas State Polytechnic CEO and dean

I was a faculty member from 1982 until the year Tom retired. I will always remember Tom as a person who treated me as if he was my equal, even though he was president of the school. He was always friendly and helpful to those of us who worked at then Kansas Technical Institute and K-State Salina. I will miss his friendly nature.

Dave Ahlvers, former professor of arts, sciences and business

Tom was an integral part of my first experience with an accreditation evaluation team; in fact, I remember that day quite vividly. It was a bitterly cold Monday morning following a huge snowstorm. The Engineers’ Council for Professional Development (later known as ABET) had arrived in Salina the day before to meet with Kansas Technical Institute program coordinators and administrators the next morning. Even though the campus was essentially closed due to inclement weather, Tom insisted that we proceed with the accreditation meeting. Unfortunately, Tom’s car got stuck in the snow less than a block from his house, so I picked him up in my four-wheel drive truck and we plowed through the snow to get to campus. I don’t recall much else about that day, except that Tom was adamant that neither snow nor anything else would get in the way of our engineering technology programs’ successful accreditation!

David Delker, 1973 KTI graduate, professor and associate dean emeritus

Tom was a consummate tinkerer. I have a photo of the carefully crafted platform he built for his students on which to perform optical refraction. For Tom, it wasn’t enough that the platform is functional, he also had to make sure the wood that was used was properly stained and polished. Typical Tom.

Rick Zajac, Kansas State Polytechnic physics professor

Former President Creech was keystone in the effort to save KTI from closing. In his tenure, there was a concerted effort to close the campus. He led the effort and rallied the students and faculty to attend many sessions in the Kansas Legislature, pleading our cause to remain open. We produced top quality graduates to a deficient industry and our placement rate was 100 percent. The entire campus community personally knew each other and worked together to insure students were qualified, and the faculty personally made hiring contacts and recommendations for job placement and follow-ups. Tom Creech dedicated his life to the college and I am convinced he saved it from closing.   

Ken Barnard, KTI student and former aviation professor and department head

View Tom Creech’s obituary here.

Kansas State University’s polytechnic campus receives nation’s first approval for unmanned commercial flight training

By Julee Cobb

Kansas State University Polytechnic Campus is elevating UAS education with the nation's first FAA-approved commercial flight training program for undergraduate students and outside industries.

Kansas State University Polytechnic Campus is elevating UAS education with the nation’s first FAA-approved commercial flight training program for undergraduate students and outside industries.

Kansas State University’s polytechnic campus has set a new precedent in the unmanned aircraft systems industry, becoming the first entity in the United States to receive approval from the Federal Aviation Administration to provide UAS commercial flight training to both students and outside companies.

The authorization, which is referred to as a Section 333 exemption, allows Kansas State Polytechnic to create and conduct an extensive flight training program for unmanned aircraft operations. Previously, motion picture and television filming and aerial data collection have been given permission for commercial UAS operations; however, the approval has been limited to only training internally and in these two mission-specific areas alone. Kansas State Polytechnic’s authorization is open to students both internal and external and is not restricted to any one particular application.

“Kansas State’s UAS program continues to be a leader and innovator in the UAS industry,” said Kurt Carraway, Kansas State Polytechnic’s acting UAS program manager. “Our goal is to produce the most relevant and professional graduate possible, and we can now offer an exclusive flight training program that will take the student experience to the next level. Kansas State Polytechnic is essentially setting the standard on how to educate tomorrow’s unmanned pilots.”

To continue reading, click here.

Kansas State Polytechnic’s director of professional education and outreach receives national ‘Rising Star’ award

After only two years as the director of Kansas State Polytechnic‘s professional education and outreach department, Danielle Brown is getting national recognition for her service to and impact on the industry.

Danielle Brown, Kansas State Polytechnic's professional education and outreach director, was named the 2015 Rising Star for the Association of Continuing Higher Education.

Danielle Brown, Kansas State Polytechnic’s professional education and outreach director, was named the 2015 Rising Star for the Association for Continuing Higher Education.

The Association for Continuing Higher Education has named Brown their Rising Star for 2015. Brown was selected for the award because of her contribution to the development of new credit, noncredit and certificate programs for the Kansas State University Polytechnic Campus as well as community-based programs that pair the campus with Kansas industries.

Brown was presented as the Rising Star at the Association for Continuing Higher Education’s national conference in St. Louis on Nov. 10. She was nominated by campus leadership and K-State’s Global Campus.

“This award means a great deal to me,” said Brown, “however, the success of professional education and outreach has been a team effort, so to have myself and the work of my department and this campus recognized is rewarding on many levels.”

Brown has helped spearhead a variety of educational agreements including a recent partnership with Wichita Area Technical School to assist their students with combining an associate degree with two years of online classes through Kansas State Polytechnic to receive a bachelor’s degree in technology management. She also has led the development of a K-State professional pilot bachelor’s degree in the Kansas City area through partnerships with Johnson County Community College and Air Associates of Kansas. And her department continues to cultivate community events such as Candy Canes and Airplanes and Discover Programs.

“I believe in the principle that we never stop learning or growing professionally,” said Brown. “One of the best parts of my job is leveraging connections and partnerships to create programs and lifelong learning opportunities that advance others’ education and careers.”

Brown joined the Kansas State Polytechnic campus in 2008 as the academic services coordinator in student support services. In 2011, she became a career and academic advisor in the academic and career advising center before moving over to professional education and outreach. Brown holds a bachelor’s degree in political science from Fort Hays State University and a master’s degree in business administration from Kansas Wesleyan University.

Kansas State Polytechnic and Wichita Area Technical College partner on bachelor’s degree in technology management

By Julee Cobb

College students living in the Wichita area have a new opportunity to advance their education through a bachelor’s degree program to be offered by Kansas State University Polytechnic Campus and Wichita Area Technical College.

Both schools have developed and signed a new 2+2 agreement, which allows students attending Wichita Area Technical College to complete a Kansas State University bachelor’s degree in technology management while staying in the Wichita community and taking classes online. The two institutions were eager to collaborate on the project, which they believe enhances students’ education options and meets a need in the state of Kansas.

To continue reading, click here.

Partners Kansas State Polytechnic and Westar Energy officially open one of the largest enclosed UAS flight facilities in the nation

By Julee Cobb

Kansas State University Polytechnic Campus and industry partner Westar Energy are advancing unmanned aircraft systems, or UAS, education, training and research with the completion of a new flight facility.

Partners Kansas State Polytechnic and Westar Energy hold a ribbon-cutting ceremony Oct. 21 to honor their new collaborative project – the UAS Pavilion. From left, are: Verna Fitzsimmons, Kansas State Polytechnic CEO and dean; Trevor Witt, UAS junior; Kurt Barnhart, Kansas State Polytechnic associate dean of research and engagement; Tim Bruner, UAS senior; Jason Klenklen, supervisor of transmission maintenance at Westar Energy; and Bruce Akin, senior vice president of power delivery at Westar Energy.

Partners Kansas State Polytechnic and Westar Energy hold a ribbon-cutting ceremony Oct. 21 to honor their new collaborative project – the UAS Pavilion. From left, are: Verna Fitzsimmons, Kansas State Polytechnic CEO and dean; Trevor Witt, UAS junior; Kurt Barnhart, Kansas State Polytechnic associate dean of research and engagement; Tim Bruner, UAS senior; Jason Klenklen, supervisor of transmission maintenance at Westar Energy; and Bruce Akin, senior vice president of power delivery at Westar Energy.

The UAS Pavilion was officially opened on Oct. 21 during a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Kansas State Polytechnic’s campus. The space is one of the largest enclosed unmanned flight facilities in the nation. Measuring 300-feet-long by 200-feet-wide and 50-feet-tall, the structure will enable staff and students in Kansas State Polytechnic’s unmanned aircraft systems program to conduct flight training and research within steps of their lab space.

“As I was watching this structure being built, I couldn’t help but wonder about all the potential it would bring,” Tim Bruner, a senior in the unmanned aircraft systems program at Kansas State Polytechnic, said at the ceremony. “There is no doubt in my mind that this pavilion will provide countless opportunities for students in the UAS program. It opens the door for accessible flight training because it’s a fluid extension of our classroom, allowing us to fly right in our own backyard.”

Since the program’s inception in 2009, all UAS flight activities have had to operate offsite because of the campus’s proximity to the Salina Regional Airport. According to rules from the Federal Aviation Administration, or FAA, unmanned aircraft – sometimes referred to as drones – cannot fly within five miles of an airport. The new structure will ensure UAS students and staff can avoid time and logistical challenges by flying onsite.

The new UAS Pavilion was built in September with the assistance of Westar Energy, Topeka, who has been an industry partner with Kansas State Polytechnic for a few years. The electric utility company and the unmanned aircraft systems program have been collaborating on applied research and training related to the development of UAS technology in and for the electric power energy sector, primarily consisting of infrastructure inspection.

“The research that is conducted through this program and now through this facility, will help us to be a best practice leader in our industry,” said Bruce Akin, senior vice president of power delivery at Westar Energy. “UAS technology can make our operations safer and more efficient, keeping the costs down for our customers. And when we can send out these devices to do inspections on power lines immediately after a major storm, it would really speed up the restoration process.”

Along with the 25 wooden poles donated and installed by Westar Energy, the facility employs custom fabricated netting panels on all sides and across the top. With the structure being contained but not completely closed off to outdoor elements, the facility does not block GPS signals on unmanned aircraft and allows flight missions to be conducted in various weather conditions. Because of the facility’s impressive size, on-campus location and multiple applications, the overall efficiency of the program’s flight operations and the students’ educational experience will be increasingly enhanced.

“My love of building things, aviation and robotics really all came together on this campus,” said Trevor Witt, a junior in Kansas State Polytechnic’s UAS program and the president of the UAS Club. “The pavilion is a convenient place for students to learn how to construct, fly and test unmanned aircraft, and I would like to host nationwide or even worldwide collegiate competitions in the space.”

The UAS Pavilion also can be utilized by outside industries as an arena for company training and research.

“Kansas State University has been working toward the goal of being recognized as a Top 50 public research institution by the year 2025,” said Verna Fitzsimmons, Kansas State Polytechnic CEO and dean. “By having a facility specifically dedicated to UAS research for both our program and outside partners, the pavilion is the perfect example of how our campus continues to contribute to that goal. These are truly exciting times on our campus.”

Kansas State Polytechnic is the second university in the nation to offer a bachelor’s degree in UAS, which began in 2011, and since then, the program has nearly doubled its enrollment every year. The initial degree focused on flight and operations, and in Fall 2015, the campus added a second bachelor’s degree in UAS design and integration. 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.

For assistance with aerial data collection and research or to learn more about the UAS Pavilion, contact Kurt Carraway, Kansas State Polytechnic UAS program manager, at 785-826-2624 or kcarraway@ksu.edu; or Kurt Barnhart, Kansas State Polytechnic associate dean of research and engagement, at 785-826-2972 or kurtb@ksu.edu.

Kansas State Polytechnic’s Alexander uses sabbatical to improve aviation safety standards in Belize

By Julee Cobb

With aviation safety standards in Belize trailing behind many other countries across the globe, a professor at the Kansas State University Polytechnic Campus devoted her yearlong sabbatical to assisting the country in advancing its aviation safety process.

Raylene Alexander will host a public presentation about her time in Belize at 3:30 p.m. Friday, Oct. 23, in the College Center conference room on the Kansas State Polytechnic campus.

Alexander, a member of the Kansas State Polytechnic aviation department since 2006, spent one year working for the Belize Department of Civil Aviation, which is similar to the Federal Aviation Administration in the U.S. She first heard about the possibility of the job from a former student who had spent time in the country and discovered its aviation industry was in desperate need of technically trained people.

Alexander arrived in Belize in July 2014 and was assigned with improving the Belize Department of Civil Aviation’s state safety program. The program is governed by the International Civil Aviation Organization, which develops global international standards and recommended practices for aviation. Belize was having difficulty getting its state safety program established and looking for assistance. To learn more click here.