Polytechnic campus collects nearly 3,000 pounds of spaghetti for Salina community group

By Julee Cobb

Kansas State Polytechnic collected almost 3,000 pounds of spaghetti for Project Salina.

Kansas State Polytechnic collected almost 3,000 pounds of spaghetti for Project Salina.

Faculty, staff and students at Kansas State University Polytechnic Campus are hoping to make an impact on the local hunger problem after collecting almost 3,000 pounds of spaghetti for the Salina community.

Kansas State Polytechnic teamed up with Project Salina, an organization that gathers food for distribution to Salina residents who cannot afford to buy meals for themselves, and set a goal of accumulating 2,500 pounds of spaghetti. Within a four-week time period, members of the polytechnic campus not only answered the call for help, they donated in droves. At the end of the Project Salina campaign, faculty, staff members and students had given 2,950 pounds of noodles largely outweighing what was expected.

Les Kinsler, a professor in the computer systems technology program who retired in May, spearheaded the event and also previously has organized blood drives on campus. He enjoys leading philanthropy opportunities because it brings people together and brings about an awareness of meaningful issues.

“I think it is very important that the university and our campus be involved with local groups and organizations,” said Kinsler. “We live in a little social unit of students, faculty and staff, and it’s easy to loose track of the needs and happenings of the larger community.”

Project Salina was established in 1990 to assist various food agencies in the city with keeping their shelves full year round, not just during the holiday season. Entities, like Kansas State Polytechnic, that initiate a food drive are assigned one non-perishable item, such as spaghetti, and a contribution goal so that Project Salina can accurately plan their amount of stock. According to Feeding America, more than 8,000 residents in Saline County, where Salina is located, needed help putting food on the table in 2014.

Along with assisting Project Salina and the American Red Cross, Kansas State Polytechnic clubs and organizations require their student members to perform community service. Examples of their philanthropy include volunteering at local retirement communities, within various Salina events like Parade of Lights, and at the VFW, Lions Club and Big Brothers Big Sisters.

Kansas State Polytechnic named number two college in the nation for unmanned aircraft systems

By Julee Cobb

The unmanned aircraft systems program on Kansas State University's polytechnic campus has been named one of the top UAS colleges in the country by Drone Training HQ, ranked number two out of 20 universities in the poll.

The unmanned aircraft systems program on Kansas State University’s polytechnic campus has been named one of the top UAS colleges in the country by Drone Training HQ, ranked number two out of 20 universities in the poll.

The unmanned aircraft systems, or UAS, program on Kansas State University’s polytechnic campus continues to add to its national presence with a new top academic ranking.

Kansas State Polytechnic has been named number two in the “Top 20 Unmanned Aerial Systems Colleges in the United States.” The list was compiled by Drone Training HQ, an online resource for unmanned pilots, engineers and technicians, and was based upon a variety of criteria, including reputation, hands-on instruction, accreditation, courses and programs offered, student feedback and job placement.

“This ranking rewards nearly 10 years of persistent hard work on multiple levels, ranging from locally to internationally,” said Kurt Barnhart, associate dean of research on the polytechnic campus and executive director of the school’s Applied Aviation Research Center. “At the outset of 2007, there were relatively few who dared to dream about what UAS could become in Salina, but here we are. We are grateful to those who have supported our endeavors and have helped us make the program a success. These achievements, however, are only the beginning.”

The program’s second place ranking comes against universities, such as Indiana State University, University of North Dakota, Oklahoma State University, and Kent State University. Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University landed the list’s number one spot.

Kansas State Polytechnic’s UAS program was launched in response to the devastating EF5 tornado that destroyed 95 percent of Greensburg, Kansas in 2007. The storm prompted state legislators to provide first responders and emergency managers with the necessary tools to effectively locate survivors and assess damage. As part of their plan, they allocated funds to Kansas State University to start an unmanned aircraft systems program that would work to improve disaster response and public safety using that technology.

A few classes related to unmanned aircraft were offered on the polytechnic campus beginning in 2009 and then a UAS certificate was established in 2010. The next year, Kansas State Polytechnic implemented a bachelor’s degree ­– only the second in the nation at that time – and then in 2015, a second bachelor’s degree was added in UAS design and integration, along with a UAS minor. Also, the program’s enrollment has doubled almost every year since its inauguration.

To learn more about Kansas State Polytechnic’s unmanned aircraft systems program, including enrollment, degree options and research, contact Kurt Carraway, acting executive director of UAS, at 785-826-2624 or kcarraway@k-state.edu.

Polytechnic’s Ackerman serving as university Coffman Chair, strives to increase academic discourse about critical thinking

Kansas State University’s 2016-17 Coffman Chair for Distinguished Teaching Scholars, Patricia Ackerman, professor of language arts at K-State Polytechnic, is determined to increase academic discourse about critical thinking at the university.

Ackerman’s goal as Coffman Chair is to facilitate a university-wide discussion about critical thinking, one of the five undergraduate student learning outcomes that the faculty senate adopted in 2004. The other outcomes published in K-State’s undergraduate student handbook include knowledge, communication, diversity awareness, and academic and professional integrity.

Patricia Ackerman, associate professor of language arts at K-State Polytechnic, is determined to increase academic discourse about critical thinking as Kansas State University’s 2016-17 Coffman Chair for Distinguished Teaching Scholars.

Patricia Ackerman, professor of language arts at K-State Polytechnic, is determined to increase academic discourse about critical thinking as Kansas State University’s 2016-17 Coffman Chair for Distinguished Teaching Scholars.

Ackerman will spend the next year meeting with academic leaders in all colleges of the university and in the Office of Planning and Assessment to examine how critical thinking is woven into various degree programs.

“I am interested in exploring how we currently define, teach and assess critical thinking at Kansas State University,” Ackerman said.

She is working with the Center for the Advancement of Teaching and Learning and the Faculty Exchange for Teaching Excellence to invite a nationally recognized scholar in the field of critical thinking to Kansas State University campus for the annual university teaching retreat in spring 2017.

The Coffman Chair for Distinguished Teaching Scholars was created in 1995 to highlight Kansas State University’s commitment to excellence in undergraduate teaching and learning. A faculty member acknowledged as a leading teaching scholar is appointed to the chair for one academic year. During that time, the chair conducts research or develops programs to improve educational methods. All who are selected for the honor retain the title of University Distinguished Teaching Scholar throughout their careers.

“Receiving the Coffman Chair for University Distinguished Teaching Professors is a tremendous honor,” Ackerman said. “I look forward to engaging in meaningful dialogue with colleagues across the university during the coming year. It is humbling to be included as a member of the notable K-State scholars who form the University Distinguished Teaching Professors alumni.”

Ackerman joined the K-State faculty in 2000. Her leadership roles at the university have included chairing the Course and Curriculum Committee, co-chairing the Faculty Senate Academic Affairs Committee, founding and directing an interdisciplinary writing center, and advising K-State Polytechnic’s student publication “On the Record.” She also served on the executive board of directors of the Midwest Writing Center Association and was the graduate program director for the professional master of technology degree. In 2014, she established and became the first coordinator of K-State Polytechnic’s Faculty Resource Center. She also served as coordinator of the campus’ first Interdisciplinary Faculty Teaching Exchange.

She currently serves on the board of directors for the Kansas Humanities Council, Faculty Senate Executive Committee, K-State Faculty Exchange for Teaching Excellence and the K-State Commission on the Status of Women. Her book, “Marymount College of Kansas: A History,” was published in 2014 and was a 2015 WILLA Literary Award finalist for scholarly nonfiction.

“Research for my 2014 book ‘Marymount College of Kansas: A History’ increased my awareness of cyclical patterns that recur in academia,” Ackerman said. “Many of the pedagogical issues faced by the Sisters of St. Joseph nearly a century ago remain at the forefront of challenges facing contemporary colleges and universities. Student learning outcomes are critical to defining what it means to be a ‘college-educated’ citizen. Revisiting student learning outcomes, individually and collectively, should be part of ongoing, dynamic discourse across the university.”

Ackerman has received numerous awards during her time at K-State, including a Marchbanks Memorial Award for Teaching Excellence, Big XII Faculty Fellowship Award, Presidential Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching, Professor of the Year Award, and two Rex McArthur Family Faculty Fellow Awards. She has been nominated twice for the Iman Award. Ackerman is a fellow of the National Writing Project, the Wakonse Conference on College Teaching and the International Writing Center Association.

Ready for takeoff: Kansas State Polytechnic launches new flight academy for high school students

By Julee Cobb

For more than 50 years, aviation technology has been an educational cornerstone of the Kansas State University Polytechnic Campus, and now that tradition is being offered to a new generation of students.

Students enrolled in Fly K-State Academy will complete four missions and earn three and a half hours of flight time while staying overnight on campus and participating in group activities and outings around the city.

Students enrolled in Fly K-State Academy will complete four missions and earn three and a half hours of flight time while staying overnight on campus and participating in group activities and outings around the city.

Kansas State Polytechnic is introducing Fly K-State Academy — a three-day piloting program, June 27-29, for high school students entering their freshman through senior year who dream about a future in aviation. In this immersive experience, students will complete four missions and earn three and a half hours of flight time while staying overnight on campus and participating in group activities and outings around the city.

The Kansas State Polytechnic Flight Team — which won the prestigious Loening Trophy in 2014 — will host Fly K-State Academy. The team developed the idea after assisting with other aviation programs on campus that only were offered to youth in elementary and middle school. Team members believe a flight program for high school students is essential to their growth as aviators and is a valuable opportunity to experience a college atmosphere.

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Nanotechnology is explored in April edition of Civic Luncheon Lecture Series

By Julee Cobb

Sometimes big things really do come in small packages.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Kate Fraser named Kansas State Polytechnic’s 2016 Alumni Fellow

Kate Fraser, a 2009 graduate of the professional pilot program, is this year’s Alumni Fellow selection from the Kansas State University Polytechnic Campus. She is one of 12 distinguished alumni honored throughout the university, representing the College of Technology and Aviation, which is housed on the polytechnic campus.

Kate Fraser, center, enjoys a reception for the Alumni Fellows at President Schulz's home in Manhattan.

Kate Fraser, center, enjoys a reception for the Alumni Fellows at President Schulz’s home in Manhattan.

Currently living in Washington, D.C., Fraser returned to K-State April 6-8 for a variety of events, including a reception at President Schulz’s home in Manhattan and a celebration of her accomplishments with faculty and staff on the polytechnic campus. Fraser even spoke to several aviation classes about current trends in the industry and her professional experiences.

Fraser is an operations research analyst for the Federal Aviation Administration’s Office of Accident Investigation and Prevention. In this role, she is responsible for safety and accident analysis, and developing tangible solutions to improve safety for both commercial and general aviation.

Prior to joining the FAA, Fraser worked for more than five years as the director of safety with the General Aviation Manufacturers Association, where she represented the world’s leading manufacturers of general aviation aircraft, engines, avionics, components and service providers. A native of McPherson, Kansas, Fraser is also a commercial pilot and certified flight instructor.

Fraser receives a plaque from Dean Verna Fitzsimmons celebrating her Alumni Fellow award.

Fraser receives a plaque from Dean Verna Fitzsimmons celebrating her Alumni Fellow award.

“I am so proud to be an alumna of K-State because I would never have had the opportunity to be doing what I’m doing if it weren’t for my education at the university,” said Fraser.

Fraser is the twenty-fourth Alumni Fellow from the Kansas State Polytechnic campus. The requirement of a fellow is that he or she has distinguished him or herself in their respective career field. The purpose of the program is to bring prominent and outstanding alumni back to campus to recognize their efforts and to learn from their expertise and life experiences.

Open House on April 16 to feature food trucks, flight demos, robots and more

Kansas State University Polytechnic Campus is giving the community a unique look at its educational programs, student clubs and innovative technologies when it opens its doors April 16 for Open House.

From 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., visitors will be able to tour the polytechnic campus and experience a variety of games, activities and live demonstrations. Those interested in the aviation program can sit in the pilot‘s seat of a flight simulator and man the controls, or watch unmanned aircraft systems take to the sky in the newly built flight pavilion. Chemistry students will perform a magic show based on recent class projects; the mechanical engineering technology program will give robot demonstrations; and student club, the K-State Gamers Board, will hold a video game competition.

Willie the Wildcat also will be on hand for photo opportunities from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. K-State’s famous Call Hall ice cream will be served free of charge and three local food trucks will provide lunch for purchase.

Kansas State Polytechnic’s Open House is an opportunity for prospective students to learn more about the campus and its offerings as well. Guided tours will be provided throughout the morning and there will be a financial aid seminar giving insight into how to pay for college. Students and their parents can connect with K-State alumni and even enter drawings for a chance to win a scholarship, football tickets and gift cards.

For more information on Kansas State Polytechnic’s Open House and its events, contact Kirsten Zoller at 785-826-7182 or visit the Open House website HERE. If you are a future student interested in the Open House events focused on enrollment and financial aid, click HERE.

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

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

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

By Julee Cobb

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.