Kansas State Polytechnic names mathematics instructor Teresa Hartman winner of 2016 Marchbanks Memorial Award for Teaching Excellence

By Julee Cobb

Mathematics instructor Teresa Hartman is the 2016 recipient of Kansas State Polytechnic's Marchbanks Memorial Award for Teaching Excellence.

Mathematics instructor Teresa Hartman is the 2016 recipient of Kansas State Polytechnic’s Marchbanks Memorial Award for Teaching Excellence.

Mathematics instructor Teresa Hartman, who has served the Kansas State University Polytechnic Campus for almost 10 years, is the 2016 recipient of the prestigious Marchbanks Memorial Award for Teaching Excellence. The honor, established more than 30 years ago, annually recognizes a Kansas State Polytechnic faculty member’s commitment in the classroom, service to students and overall merit as a teacher. 

 

While becoming an educator wasn’t on her radar until graduate school, Hartman’s natural talent and innovative intuition are evidence the classroom is where she belongs. Hartman has been able to successfully take a subject often dreaded by students and transform it into a comprehensible ally. And knowing that the price of education is of equal concern to students as understanding the material, Hartman has incorporated cost effective measures into her teaching.

 

Hartman is the first faculty member at Kansas State Polytechnic to implement the Open Textbook initiative. She has essentially abandoned traditional textbooks in her College Algebra and General Calculus classes and in their place, created a series of 10 to 15 minute videos that explain the information step by step. Students are able to access the videos online and can pause, rewind and watch them as many times as they like until the math problem is understood.

 

“Math textbooks haven’t always made sense to me, which is disappointing because that is my profession; and if I can’t grasp how the material is laid out in the books, then why should I expect my students to?” said Hartman, who also teaches the courses online. “The purpose of an alternative or open textbook is to provide cost savings for students while improving the quality of the learning process. Because of the videos, students are not required to buy a textbook in College Algebra and General Calculus, and the information is adapted in such a way it can easily be understood.”

 

Hartman, who also teaches Intermediate Algebra and Intro to Statistics, says one of her career goals, once she got into teaching, has been to author her own textbook. Even though she thought at first the ambition might be “crazy and unrealistic,” she continued to dream about composing an instructional tool that actually aids students, not acts as a confusing hindrance.

 

“With the math videos, in a roundabout way, I turned a farfetched idea into reality. I never imagined I would actually be able to create my own alternative textbook, but when the opportunity presented itself, I jumped at the chance and other teachers should too. If you strongly believe in doing something, go for it!” Hartman encouraged.

 

That persistent will to succeed was first honed while growing up on a pig farm in small-town Summerfield, Kansas, where Hartman was tasked with completing her older brothers’ chores once they left for college. She cultivated that determined spirit in high school at Axtell Public School where she became competitive with some of her classmates over their math test scores. And it was during this battle for superior student that Hartman realized she had a knack for numbers.

 

Hartman attended Fort Hays State University where she received a bachelor’s degree in mathematics. Unsure how to turn her major into a profession, she continued her education at Kansas State University working toward her master’s in mathematics. While at K-State, Hartman was a graduate teaching assistant and says the process of leading a classroom came natural to her. Hartman’s teaching advisors even complemented her on the way she was able to connect with students.

 

What solidified Hartman’s future in the education world was a chance meeting with one of Kansas State Polytechnic’s faculty members. Hartman just happened to be the only graduate teaching assistant in her office when Don Von Bergen, the director of the Polytechnic Campus’s arts, sciences and business department at the time, came inquiring about appropriate qualifications for a math instructor that he should list on a new job posting. Hartman later applied for the open position of math instructor at Kansas State Polytechnic and was chosen for the job.

 

Since arriving on the Polytechnic Campus in 2007, and along with teaching four math sections and online classes, Hartman holds workshops to assist students who need extra help learning how to use graphing calculators. She also has served as the faculty sponsor for the campus’s dance team, the Spirit Cats; was elected chair of the Academic Affairs Committee of Faculty Senate; and has won several other awards, including a distance learning award and the 2016 Educator of the Year honor from the campus’s Multicultural Student Union.

 

Hartman, now a Salina resident, has been married to her husband Bret since 2009 and the couple currently has two children – daughter, Autumn, who is three years old, and son, Braxton, who turned two in July – and is expecting their third child in February.

Kansas State University’s Polytechnic Campus opens new facility dedicated to community outreach, professional development

By Julee Cobb

Kansas State Polytechnic officially opens the campus's new Outreach Center with a ribbon-cutting ceremony Sept. 8. From left are members of the Salina Area Chamber of Commerce All-America Team; Joe Harrison, director of facilities for Kansas State Polytechnic; Danielle Brown, director of the campus's professional education and outreach department; Alysia Starkey, associate dean of undergraduate studies for Kansas State Polytechnic; and another member of the All-America Team.

Kansas State Polytechnic officially opens the campus’s new Outreach Center with a ribbon-cutting ceremony Sept. 8. From left are members of the Salina Area Chamber of Commerce All-America Team; Joe Harrison, director of facilities for Kansas State Polytechnic; Danielle Brown, director of the campus’s professional education and outreach department; Alysia Starkey, associate dean of undergraduate studies for Kansas State Polytechnic; and another member of the All-America Team.

The professional education and outreach department on Kansas State University’s Polytechnic Campus is officially home.

The Outreach Center, a new facility dedicated to the department’s community and professional development services, opened its doors Sept. 8 following a ribbon-cutting ceremony on the north corridor of the Polytechnic Campus. Built more than 50 years ago and original to the Air Force base that came before the campus property, the building has been fully renovated to include a training classroom, testing center and multiple office spaces.

“The opening of the Outreach Center marks a proud moment in the history of Kansas State Polytechnic because it demonstrates the campus’s continuous advancement toward our strategic goals of growing in both educational offerings and infrastructure,” said Verna Fitzsimmons, dean and CEO of Kansas State Polytechnic. “The center will provide professional education and outreach with the vital resources it needs to serve its clients and the community while acting as inspiration for the rebirth of the north section of campus.”

For years, professional education and outreach has been offering a multitude of diverse training programs, professional development resources, K-12 collaborations and civic engagement opportunities. From grade school children in summer aviation camps to Osher lifelong learning classes for people 50 and older, there are programs for a large spectrum of ages, and each offering has a broad audience reach – community members, students and industry professionals. Kansas State Polytechnic’s technology management bachelor’s degree is also offered online through the department.

“It has been the vision of professional education and outreach to provide the campus, community and our industry partners with an innovative, collaborative space where learning is accessible and inspired,” said Danielle Brown, director of the department. “The Outreach Center has exceeded our expectations and we are excited to utilize this valuable asset, especially the training classroom because it is an essential space for our programs and it holds a variety of necessary technology amenities.”

The Outreach Center was designed with multipurpose spaces, which can be adapted and easily reconfigured as programs and staff evolve over the years. Also available is office space for professional education and outreach, an additional tenant, a testing center for students and a training classroom. Significant technology upgrades were added to the classroom area, including enhanced lighting controls, high-definition cameras and microphones, flat-screen televisions, connection with any web-based meeting software and the capacity to video conference another class in a separate location.

Originally constructed in 1956 as part of Schilling Air Force Base, now home to the Polytechnic Campus, the Outreach Center has had a variety of uses over the years, including as a computer science building, student union and student activities center. Though the decision to tear it down when starting the renovation may have seemed like a logical one, Kansas State Polytechnic wanted to keep an environmental consciousness about the build.

“By repurposing this facility, Kansas State Polytechnic was able to enhance our ability to be resourceful stewards in both the fiscal and environmental realms,” said Joe Harrison, director of facilities for the campus. “By choosing to reuse in lieu of demolition, this allowed us to minimize the environmental impact by negating the need to disturb existing greenfield areas for utilities and foundations. This also enabled us to significantly reduce the amount of construction waste, which would typically have been generated and slated for a local landfill.”

The Outreach Center is in the north corridor of the campus, which is an area Kansas State Polytechnic plans on redeveloping, starting with the addition of K-State Research and Extension. Details about building renovations and a timeline are forthcoming.

For questions about the Outreach Center or to learn more about the program offerings of professional education and outreach, contact Brown at 785-826-2633 or profed@k-state.edu.

Kansas State Polytechnic UAS program offering Part 107 short course for remote pilot in command certification

By Julee Cobb

Travis Balthazor, Kansas State Polytechnic's UAS flight operations manager, prepares students for the written FAA exam during the program's Part 107 training course.

Travis Balthazor, Kansas State Polytechnic’s UAS flight operations manager, prepares students for the written FAA exam during the program’s Part 107 training course.

Kansas State University’s Polytechnic Campus is expanding its unmanned aircraft systems program to now include a weeklong course centered on the Federal Aviation Administration’s new Part 107 regulations.

Designed to prepare professionals for remote pilot in command certification, Kansas State Polytechnic is offering a UAS commercial pilot training course from Monday, Oct. 17, through Friday, Oct. 21, focused on FAA guidelines proficiency, flight safety and development of standard operating procedures. The course was created in response to the recently instituted Part 107 rules for commercial use of small unmanned aircraft, specifically the required written FAA exam for anyone without a manned pilot certificate.

“Under the FAA’s Part 107 mandate, anyone who wants to fly for commercial operations without obtaining a manned certification must demonstrate, through a written test, the ability to safely conduct those operations; however, much of the material in the test is complex and covers topics those outside the aviation industry might not understand,” said Kurt Carraway, executive director of Kansas State Polytechnic’s UAS program. “We believe there is validity in offering a personalized experience where interested UAS operators can connect with our program experts and have their questions answered immediately. It is also a tremendous opportunity to answer questions about complex airspace and other subject matters that can be confusing to new aviators.”

During the first three days of the commercial pilot training course, students receive in-class instruction specifically on elements covered in the written FAA exam, such as different classes of airspace, meteorology, weather, UAS performance, loading and center of gravity, and Part 107 itself. On the fourth day, students will take the required exam in the campus’s FAA test center. The remaining day and a half is spent conducting flight training in one of the nation’s largest enclosed UAS flight facilities, which is on campus, and creating essential documents for safe operations, like standard operating procedures, a preflight checklist and flight logs. After students successfully complete the FAA exam and the course, they will receive a remote pilot in command, or RPIC, certificate from the FAA.

Spencer Schrader, a junior in the K-State Polytechnic UAS program, works with Wayne Scritchfield  of Kirkham Michael on his piloting skills.

Spencer Schrader, right, a junior in the K-State Polytechnic UAS program, works with Wayne Scritchfield of Kirkham Michael on his piloting skills.

Kansas State Polytechnic launched its first commercial pilot training course on Aug. 30, the day Part 107 went into effect. Two employees of Kirkham Michael, a civil engineering firm based in Ellsworth, with offices throughout the state and in Nebraska and Iowa, attended the five-day course in preparation of their company using UAS technology for data collection, 3-D modeling and surveying crop health.

“This UAS course has prepared us to help Kirkham Michael become the frontrunners in our industry with new technology offerings,” said Wayne Scritchfield, a registered land surveyor with the company. “Along with studying for the exam and then becoming certified, we received valuable assistance with setting up standard operating procedures and flight logs, which the FAA wants to see from professionals utilizing unmanned aircraft in their work. I had also never flown before, so it was very beneficial to have personal instruction where I could work through any learning objectives.”

All of the participants expressed that the course is a convenient way to network with other individuals and companies looking to use UAS technology for a variety of applications, which could lead to future collaborations of resources.

Wayne Scritchfield, right, and Jerry Froese, top, both of Kirkham Michael, get hands-on UAS training in K-State Polytechnic's netted flying pavilion.

Wayne Scritchfield, right, and Jerry Froese, top, both of Kirkham Michael, get hands-on UAS training in K-State Polytechnic’s netted flying pavilion.

The cost of the commercial pilot training course is $1,400 for individuals, with a discounted rate for companies sending multiple attendees. The cost of the FAA exam is an additional charge. More information on the course, including registration and travel arrangements, can be found at polytechnic.k-state.edu/profed/suas.

Kansas State Polytechnic received the country’s first Section 333 exemption for flight training in November 2015, allowing the UAS program to create and conduct an extensive flight training program for students and outside entities before the FAA-agreed upon Part 107. Along with the upcoming commercial pilot training course, Kansas State Polytechnic has been providing companies such as SkySkopes, an unmanned flight services company in North Dakota, with multirotor flight training; has been offering a UAS multirotor hobbyist course; and has implemented structured flight training curriculum for students in Kansas State Polytechnic’s UAS bachelor’s degree program.

To learn more about Kansas State Polytechnic’s UAS training offerings, including customizable courses, contact the campus’s professional education and outreach department at 785-826-2633 or profed@k-state.edu. To inquire about UAS research opportunities, contact Carraway at 785-826-2624 or kcarraway@k-state.edu.

 

Going the extra mile: Kansas State Polytechnic, PrecisionHawk collaborate on UAS extended visual line of sight research for forthcoming FAA regulations

By Julee Cobb

Andi Meyer, research program manager at Kansas State Polytechnic, second from left, supervises one of the extended visual line of sight field experiments with two participants who have a UAS flight simulation on their computer and are anticipating a manned aircraft entering their airspace.

Andi Meyer, research program manager at Kansas State Polytechnic, second from left, supervises one of the extended visual line of sight field experiments with two participants who have a UAS flight simulation on their computer and are anticipating a manned aircraft entering their airspace.

As the new regulations for commercial operations of small unmanned aircraft systems, known as Part 107, take effect, the UAS program on Kansas State University’s Polytechnic Campus is joining a research effort to assist the Federal Aviation Administration with potential next steps in that rule-making process.

Kansas State Polytechnic is collaborating with PrecisionHawk, a leading drone data and safety company headquartered in Raleigh, North Carolina, to determine the risk assessment of extended visual line of sight operations of UAS. PrecisionHawk is a part of the FAA’s Pathfinder program, which involves industry partners exploring incremental expansion of UAS operations in the national airspace. Currently, CNN and BNSF Railway are the only other participating entities, with PrecisionHawk specifically tasked with examining UAS flights outside of the pilot’s direct vision in rural areas for crop monitoring in precision agriculture.

“Kansas State Polytechnic is honored to work alongside PrecisionHawk on research that we believe is crucial to the progression of Part 107 guidelines and moving the UAS industry in the direction it needs to go,” said Kurt Carraway, executive director of the school’s UAS program. “Being able to fly with extended visual line of sight could greatly increase the efficiency and productivity of UAS operations; however, it’s important to ensure this can be done safely and routinely, and our collaboration will provide the FAA with meaningful data to make that determination.”

Spencer Schrader, a junior in the UAS program, and

Spencer Schrader, a junior in the UAS program, left, watches Nathan Maresch, a university UAS lab technologist, set up a ground control station to plan a drone’s flight plan during part of the EVLOS experiment.

After establishing a working definition for operational extended visual line of sight, or EVLOS, including an initial measured distance in Pathfinder phase one, PrecisionHawk connected with Kansas State Polytechnic to collaborate on a series of controlled field experiments during the summer and fall involving volunteers with varying levels of flight experience. The studies are aimed at calculating an achievable level of safety for drone pilot response time and choice of action when confronted by a manned intruder.

“In extended visual line of sight, a pilot maintains situational awareness of the airspace he or she is flying in while the unmanned aircraft is just beyond the limits of vision,” said Andi Meyer, Kansas State Polytechnic’s research program manager. “At this distance, it is impossible to visually determine the orientation of an unmanned aircraft, while a larger manned aircraft can be seen. It’s imperative for the remote pilot in command to be able to use the electronic flight display to compare the location of each and then rapidly make safe, effective decisions on any required response. This research is needed for the FAA to understand what level of training should be required to fly in EVLOS.”

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What commercial use of small UAS within the national airspace means to Kansas State

By Travis Balthazor

Kansas State Polytechnic UAS program

Kansas State Polytechnic’s UAS program is happy to help fellow Wildcats understand the Part 107 regulations so the technology is used in a safe, legal manner across the university.

 

New FAA rules — Part 107 of the Federal Aviation Regulations — for small unmanned aerial systems, or sUAS, for commercial operators will go into effect on Aug. 29. Kansas State University’s Polytechnic Campus can help sUAS operators understand the changes and how to comply with the new rule. Read a complete PDF document with information about the new rule on page 598.

The new rules’ provisions are designed to minimize risks to nonparticipating people and property — in the air and on the ground. The regulations require pilots to keep an unmanned aircraft within visual line of sight. The new regulations also address height and speed restrictions and other operational limits, such as prohibiting flights over unprotected people on the ground who are not directly participating in the UAS operation.

K-State Polytechnic is an FAA approved testing center for the remote pilot in command certificate, or RPIC, and offers a comprehensive sUAS Remote Pilot in Command training course to help prepare individuals to take and pass the exam. Individuals who complete and pass the RPIC exam will be able to conduct operations once they have obtained a temporary RPIC certificate, if applicable, or received their RPIC in the mail.

How to operate under Part 107

Under the final rule, the person actually flying a UAS must be at least 16 years old and have a RPIC with a small UAS rating, or be directly supervised by someone with such a certificate. To qualify for a remote pilot certificate, an individual falls into one of two categories:

1. Applicants with Part 61 Certificates: A person who holds a part 61 pilot certificate, or manned pilots license — except a student pilot certificate — and has completed a flight review within the previous 24 calendar months may elect to apply using the following process:

Complete the online course — Part 107 small Unmanned Aircraft Systems, ALC-451 — located on the FAA Safety Team website and receive a completion certificate.

2. Applicants without Part 61 Certificates: Under this category, individuals must pass an initial aeronautical knowledge test at an FAA-approved knowledge-testing center and take a recurrent knowledge test every two years. The test is not to be taken lightly. The FAA wants to ensure all RPIC operators understand the responsibilities associated with flying a sUAS in the National Airspace System. Preparation for this test is critical to pass the exam. Example questions and testing information are available online.

Kansas State University has many sUAS operational areas that are closer than five nautical miles to an airfield, including Ashland Bottoms near Manhattan. Thesmall UAS Advisory Circular, AC 107-2, states that operations in Class B, Class C, or Class D airspace, or within the lateral boundaries of the surface area of Class E airspace designated for an airport, are not allowed unless that person has prior authorization from air traffic control. Manhattan, Salina, Hays, Topeka, Wichita and several others fall within this category.

Kansas State University’s UAS department is currently working with Manhattan and Salina air traffic control authorities to obtain such authority. If you are interested in conducting operations under Part 107, we ask that you coordinate with us, as we are already working with air traffic control authorities to determine if operations under Part 107 will be allowed. In the meantime, our current Public Certificates of Waiver or Authorization and Section 333 exemptions remain valid, including agreements with air traffic control authorities.

If you have questions regarding any of the material listed, please contact Travis Balthazor, flight operations manager at Kansas State University’s UAS department, at travisb@k-state.edu or 785-826-8557.

Kansas State Polytechnic joins Kansas-based company in aviation technology competitions

By Pat Melgares

Kansas State University’s Polytechnic Campus has joined with a Kansas-based company to launch three technology competitions that seek ways to improve the safety of flying drones, help pilots pass their color vision test, and aid NASA’s search to find life in the solar system.

Kansas State Polytechnic is working with HiddenGenius.com, an online community that creates competitions to develop technologies that improve the world.

The work by HiddenGenius.com and its CEO, Trevor McKeeman, is being supported by Kansas State University through the Institute for Commercialization. The company is based in Manhattan, but has employees and advisors in eight time zones.

HiddenGenius.com essentially allows people to “spark” an online competition for a technology they would like to see developed. Sponsors who like the idea provide money to fund the competition prize. The HiddenGenius.com community collaboratively shapes the goals and rules of the competition, McKeeman said.

Ultimately, companies compete to deliver the technology. The winning company receives the sponsors’ prize money and recognition by media and customers, he said.

Here’s a look at the competitions sponsored by Kansas State Polytechnic and HiddenGenius.com:

Drone Sense and Avoid seeks to develop technology that will reduce the risk of an unmanned aircraft system colliding with light aircraft.

“We have visited with many of the top minds in the drone industry, NASA, Federal Aviation Administration, pilot organizations, drone operators and companies wanting to use drones beyond line of sight,” McKeeman said.

Kurt Barnhart, associate dean of research and executive director of the Applied Aviation Research Center at Kansas State Polytechnic, said this competition is one of the main remaining technical challenges to fully integrating UAS into the national airspace system, adding that companies like Amazon, Google and others have introduced the concept of using drones to deliver products to consumers.

“Solving that piece is huge for many stakeholders,” Barnhart said.

Another competition is to develop technology that helps pilots pass the color vision test required by the FAA. McKeeman said the first company to prove its technology helps pilots with color blindness pass the test, and that gets approval from the FAA, wins the prize.

The number of people in the U.S. with a color vision deficiency is between 20-30 million, or roughly the population of Los Angeles, New York City and Dallas combined.

“It’s crazy, in a world where we knock down barriers for those with disabilities, that millions of people may be cut off from their dream of being a pilot,” McKeeman said. “Technology can fix this for pilots, and may also be used to help millions of kids who struggle with color-based curriculum in school. I was one of those kids.”

The third competition is to help NASA find life in the solar system.

“NASA believes that Mars and Europa both have water, and it is possible this may contain life,” McKeeman said. “The next generation of rovers must be completely sterile of earth-based bacteria before they can explore these areas.”

“Decontaminating the Mars rover is significant because as we explore other planets, it’s important not to introduce foreign microbes that could create unintended consequences in that new environment,” Barnhart said. “It sounds cool just talking about it.”

McKeeman said HiddenGenius.com and Kansas State Polytechnic hope to inspire creative thinking.

“It is exciting to think that people from around the world can help sponsor a prize competition, that some hidden genius in their garage might find a solution to this challenge, and that we may be able to help NASA find life beyond Earth,” McKeeman said. “What if the technology could also be used to sterilize hospital rooms and save lives? Who wouldn’t want to help change human history.”

More information is available at HiddenGenius.com, which is free to join. McKeeman said any member can spark a competition, shape the goals and rules, sponsor the prize, or compete to win.

 

Kansas State Polytechnic professor Tim Bower’s robotics education article published in prestigious engineering magazine

By Julee Cobb

Tim Bower, computer systems technology professor at Kansas State Polytechnic for 12 years, holds his published article on robotics programming for beginners in the IEEE Robotics and Automation magazine.

Tim Bower, computer systems technology professor at Kansas State Polytechnic for 12 years, holds his published article on robotics programming for beginners in the IEEE Robotics and Automation magazine.

Tim Bower, a computer systems technology professor at Kansas State University’s Polytechnic Campus, is being recognized for his teaching methods in robotics programming by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, or IEEE.

Bower composed an article in April last year about his strategies for educating beginning students on the complexities of robotics and it was chosen by IEEE Robotics and Automation magazine for publication in the June 2016 edition. The story, entitled “Teaching Introductory Robotics Programming,” was one of only nine editorials selected out of almost 40 submissions from 15 different countries.

The article is inspired by the robotics programming course Bower created in spring 2014. With a variety of majors enrolled, including unmanned aircraft systems, mechanical engineering technology and electronic and computer engineering technology, he knew many of the students would only have basic knowledge of the technology and may have challenges comprehending the algorithms involved. Bower streamlined the course by highlighting the areas of robotics that are more understandable for beginners and in one case, developed his own algorithm.

“In robotics programming, multiple things are happening at the same time ­– reading sensors, controlling wheels and motors, steering – and it can be a difficult technology to master,” said Bower, who has been with Kansas State Polytechnic for 12 years. “As a professor, the last thing I want is to frustrate and discourage students by forcing them to learn something that isn’t on their educational level. It’s important to create a path where students have an appreciation for the complexities and also leave my class feeling successful.”

Bower’s article, which gives examples of the simplified autonomous algorithms he uses in the course including the wall-following algorithm he invented, was chosen for publication because of the quality of the written document as well as its purpose of helping beginners feel comfortable with robotic programming. This is Bower’s first article that a publication of IEEE has picked up, though he has had a few previous articles appear in other educational journals.

“I’m very honored to see my article selected for such a prestigious publication – it’s a validating feeling when my many hours of research and teaching are recognized,” said Bower. “Most importantly, however, I hope it gives teachers and professors ideas and strategies they can use to help their students feel more confident and accomplished.”

Before arriving on the Kansas State Polytechnic campus in 2004, Bower was a systems administrator in the computer science department on K-State’s Manhattan campus. He also worked for 10 years at Sprint in Kansas City as an electrical engineer. Bower earned a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from K-State and a master’s in electrical engineering from the University of Kansas.

In 2015, Bower won Kansas State Polytechnic’s Excellence in Innovation Award during the campus Faculty and Professional Staff Awards Showcase.

Kansas State Polytechnic’s Dean Verna Fitzsimmons receives national recognition with Inspiring Women in STEM Award

By Julee Cobb

Verna Fitzsimmons, the CEO and dean of Kansas State University's Polytechnic Campus, has been chosen by INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine as one of the recipients of its 2016 Inspiring Women in STEM Award.

Verna Fitzsimmons, the CEO and dean of Kansas State University’s Polytechnic Campus, has been chosen by INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine as one of the recipients of its 2016 Inspiring Women in STEM Award.

As the first woman to be CEO and dean of Kansas State University’s Polytechnic Campus, Verna Fitzsimmons is receiving national recognition for her continued support and leadership of women in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics, or STEM.

INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine, the largest and oldest diversity and inclusion publication in higher education, has named Fitzsimmons a recipient of its 2016 Inspiring Women in STEM Award. This accomplishment honors women who work to inspire and encourage a new generation of young women to consider careers in STEM through mentoring, teaching, research and successful programs and initiatives. Fitzsimmons will be featured, along with 65 other recipients, in the September 2016 issue of the magazine.

“I am truly honored to receive this recognition because part of my purpose as a female educator with an engineering background is instilling in young women the belief that there are no boundaries when it comes to their future,” said Fitzsimmons, who has been at the helm of Kansas State Polytechnic since 2012. “Growing up, I had amazing mentors who encouraged and exposed me to STEM fields and I believe it is my responsibility as well as my honor to do the same for the next generation.”

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New collaboration takes flight: Kansas State Polytechnic and Kansas Wesleyan University jointly offer unmanned aircraft systems, emergency management minors to students

By Julee Cobb and John Elmore

Kansas State University's Polytechnic Campus and Kansas Wesleyan University sign an agreement July 11 to enable unmanned aircraft systems students at Kansas State Polytechnic and emergency management students at KWU to cross-register and earn a minor in the other institution's program. Front row, from left are: Verna Fitzsimmons, dean and CEO of Kansas State Polytechnic, and Matt Thompson, president of Kansas Wesleyan University. Back row, from left are: Bernie Botson, deputy director of emergency management for Saline County; Kendy Edmonds, junior in Kansas State Polytechnic's UAS program; Lonnie Booker, Jr., director of Kansas Wesleyan University's emergency management program; Kurt Carraway, executive director of Kansas State Polytechnic's UAS program; Bill Backlin, Kansas Wesleyan University's interim provost; and Alysia Starkey, associate dean of undergraduate studies at Kansas State Polytechnic.

Kansas State University’s Polytechnic Campus and Kansas Wesleyan University sign an agreement July 11 to enable unmanned aircraft systems students at Kansas State Polytechnic and emergency management students at KWU to cross-register and earn a minor in the other institution’s program. Front row, from left are: Verna Fitzsimmons, dean and CEO of Kansas State Polytechnic, and Matt Thompson, president of Kansas Wesleyan University. Back row, from left are: Bernie Botson, deputy director of emergency management for Saline County; Kendy Edmonds, junior in Kansas State Polytechnic’s UAS program; Lonnie Booker, Jr., director of Kansas Wesleyan University’s emergency management program; Kurt Carraway, executive director of Kansas State Polytechnic’s UAS program; Bill Backlin, Kansas Wesleyan University’s interim provost; and Alysia Starkey, associate dean of undergraduate studies at Kansas State Polytechnic.

It’s a disaster with casualties. An emergency management team and an unmanned aircraft systems support team both arrive on scene — but how do they speak each other’s language and work together?

Two of Salina’s leading higher education institutions are joining forces to tackle that issue in a collaboration that will prepare future emergency managers how to best utilize unmanned aircraft when deploying resources and to understand and analyze the data they collect. In turn, this new collaboration will teach future UAS pilots how to efficiently operate unmanned aircraft, often known as drones, within disaster sites and support the efforts of emergency response teams in crisis situations.
The collaboration was made official at a signing event July 11 at Kansas State Polytechnic. Through this agreement, Kansas Wesleyan University emergency management majors are able to cross-register and earn a minor in unmanned aircraft systems at Kansas State University’s Polytechnic Campus, while unmanned aircraft systems students at Kansas State Polytechnic now can cross-register and earn a minor in emergency management at Kansas Wesleyan University, or KWU.

“This is the first collaboration of its kind between state and private universities for such programs,” said Matt Thompson, president and CEO of Kansas Wesleyan University. “The graduates of these nationally recognized programs will have cross-over training and knowledge that makes them more prepared and therefore, in higher demand in their career fields.”

“The origin of Kansas State Polytechnic’s UAS program was influenced by the devastating effects of the EF5 tornado in Greensburg in 2007 and the need to support first responders and emergency managers with relevant technology that locates survivors and evaluates damage,” said Verna Fitzsimmons, dean and CEO of Kansas State Polytechnic. “We are thrilled to have the opportunity to reconnect with those roots through this collaboration and provide our students with another applicable avenue in the ever-expanding field of UAS.”

Dean Verna Fitzsimmons speaks during the agreement signing with Kansas Wesleyan University.

Dean Verna Fitzsimmons speaks during the agreement signing with Kansas Wesleyan University.

Students enrolled in Kansas State Polytechnic’s Bachelor of Science program in aeronautical technology with an emphasis in unmanned aircraft systems, which requires a private pilot certificate with instrument rating, will be able to add a minor in emergency management with 18 credit hours in emergency management courses taught at KWU. These hours consist of four required emergency management courses plus two emergency management electives. Required courses are Introduction to Emergency Management, Hazard Mitigation and Preparedness, Disaster Response and Recovery, and National Incident Management Systems. Emergency management elective courses include Damage Assessment, Cyberwarfare, Criminal Law, Sociology of Disaster, and Victimology.

“Many of our UAS students have ambitions of applying their operations skills in a way that is socially beneficial, and offering the emergency management minor allows them to further their career aspirations while making a contribution to those in need,” said Michael Most, Kansas State Polytechnic associate professor and unmanned aircraft systems program lead. “We also are proud to be able to share the multifaceted uses of UAS technology with KWU students to supplement and diversify their field of study by adding another tool to the emergency manager’s toolbox.”

Students enrolled in the Bachelor of Arts in emergency management major at KWU will be able to add a minor in unmanned aircraft systems with 15 credit hours in UAS courses taught at Kansas State Polytechnic. These hours consist of three required UAS courses and two additional courses tailored for either licensed pilots or non-aviators. Required UAS courses include Introduction to Unmanned Aircraft Systems, Processing Techniques for Low Altitude Remotely Sensed (LARS) Data, and Acquisition and Advanced Processing of LARS Data. The LARS courses are designed for environmental and agricultural sensing applications but will be tailored to the needs of KWU emergency management students for the purposes of damage assessment and remote site investigation following a disaster incident. The final two courses in the minor, UAS Design and UAS Mission Planning and Operations, will allow students to build their own unmanned aircraft capable of being remotely piloted. There is an additional cost for the aircraft materials.

“We are excited about the opportunities this new agreement presents,” said Lonnie Booker Jr., KWU assistant professor and director of emergency management. “It will take both fields of study to a whole new level of knowledge and expertise and enhance two programs that produce well-trained graduates for an emerging field.”

Guests of the signing event could view various technologies that are essential to UAS and emergency management.

Guests of the signing event could view various technologies that are essential to UAS and emergency management.

The emergency management major at Kansas Wesleyan University is the only four-year emergency management degree available in Kansas. Students gain the theoretical knowledge, practical skills and sense of duty to step in to save lives and protect property. Program tracks within the emergency management major include homeland security, business continuity and nongovernmental organizations. The major offers courses that can be taken online or on campus. KWU’s expertise in this field is gaining national attention, with Emergency Management Degree Program Guide naming the university among the “20 Top Emergency Management Bachelor’s Degree Programs Under $23,000 Average Net 2014.” Of those 20 top schools named, KWU’s degree was rated No. 8 for its quality, ahead of Arizona State University, Arkansas State University and the University of North Texas.

Booker was invited to be a panelist for the 17th annual Emergency Management Higher Education Symposium in 2015, hosted by the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Emergency Management Institute. His panel discussed emergency management program development and growth at colleges and universities.

Kansas Wesleyan University is located near Crisis City, operated by the Kansas Division of Emergency Management, an unrivaled world-class, multidiscipline, multiagency training environment developed to enhance the state’s capability to defend against terrorism threats and respond to disasters and emergencies. The university enjoys strong partnerships with local, regional and national emergency management experts and organizations.

Kansas State Polytechnic was the second university in the nation to offer a bachelor’s degree in unmanned aircraft systems, launched in 2009. Since that time, the program has nearly doubled its enrollment every year and to meet the demand, added a second bachelor’s degree in UAS design and integration as well as the UAS minor.

The program recently was named No. 2 on Drone Training HQ’s list of the “Top 20 Unmanned Aerial Systems Colleges in the United States” and was chosen as one of the Top 16 “Best Drone Universities” in the country by Dronethusiast.com.

The national recognition is a product of Kansas State Polytechnic’s exclusive accomplishments within the unmanned aircraft systems industry. In February 2015, Kansas State Polytechnic became the first entity in the United States to receive an FAA Certificate of Authorization for statewide access during flight operations. Recently, the program was awarded a nationwide certificate for public research operations.

In May 2015, Kansas State Polytechnic was among 20 universities across the nation, including the University of Kansas and Wichita State University, named by the U.S. Department of Transportation to an elite new group, the Federal Aviation Administration Center of Excellence for Unmanned Aircraft Systems. This alliance, called ASSURE, puts Kansas State Polytechnic at the cutting edge of UAS research in federally funded projects.

In November 2015, Kansas State Polytechnic became the first entity in the United States to receive approval from the FAA to provide UAS commercial flight training to both students and outside companies. The authorization, which is referred to as a Section 333 exemption, allowed Kansas State Polytechnic to create and conduct an extensive flight training program for unmanned aircraft operations.

And in May, it was announced that the Kansas Department of Transportation created a new position to direct UAS industry development in the state, with one of the post’s offices being located at Kansas State Polytechnic.

Kansas State Polytechnic is leading a variety of UAS research projects with outside partners, including the FAA and Westar Energy. The program has the most varied UAS fleet in U.S. academia, with a mix of more than 30 fixed-wing and rotary wing unmanned aircraft, or drones. Kansas State Polytechnic also boasts one of the largest enclosed flight facilities in the nation, allowing students to pilot their unmanned aircraft within steps of the classroom and UAS lab.

For more information on Kansas State Polytechnic’s academic UAS program, including enrollment, class options and the new emergency management minor, contact Most at 785-826-2681 or mtmost@k-state.edu. To inquire about UAS commercial flight training and research collaborations, contact Kurt Carraway, executive director of the UAS program, at 785-826-2624 or kcarraway@k-state.edu. Learn about Kansas Wesleyan University’s emergency management program by contacting Booker at lonnie.booker@kwu.edu or 785-833-4360.

Kansas’ first-ever UAS director to have part-time residency at Kansas State University’s Polytechnic Campus

By Julee Cobb

The first-ever director of unmanned aircraft systems for the state of Kansas, officially introduced July 5, will be located part time on the Kansas State University Polytechnic Campus. From left are: Rep. J.R. Claeys, Kansas House of Representatives; Bob Brock, Kansas Department of Transportation UAS director; Mike King, Kansas transportation secretary; Verna Fitzsimmons, dean and CEO of Kansas State University's Polytechnic Campus; Kurt Barnhart, associate dean of research on the Polytechnic Campus and executive director of the school's Applied Aviation Research Center; and Merrill Atwater, Kansas Department of Transportation aviation director.

The first-ever director of unmanned aircraft systems for the state of Kansas, officially introduced July 5, will be located part time on the Kansas State University Polytechnic Campus. From left are: Rep. J.R. Claeys, Kansas House of Representatives; Bob Brock, Kansas Department of Transportation UAS director; Mike King, Kansas transportation secretary; Verna Fitzsimmons, dean and CEO of Kansas State University’s Polytechnic Campus; Kurt Barnhart, associate dean of research on the Polytechnic Campus and executive director of the school’s Applied Aviation Research Center; and Merrill Atwater, Kansas Department of Transportation aviation director.

Kansas State University’s Polytechnic Campus is a part of another pioneering move in the unmanned aircraft systems industry with its contributions to a newly created UAS position for the state.

Kansas State Polytechnic will be a part-time home to Bob Brock, Kansas’ first-ever director of unmanned aircraft. Announced during an event July 5, Brock will maintain offices on the campus as well as at Kansas Department of Transportation headquarters in Topeka.

“It is an honor to host the new UAS director on our campus because it means we are viewed as one of the primary and most influential centers for the advancement of this technology in the state,” said Kurt Barnhart, associate dean of research at Kansas State Polytechnic and executive director of the campus’s Applied Aviation Research Center. “We have been working for many years to bring awareness to the exciting potential and power of unmanned aircraft, and this position validates a commitment to the growth of UAS from a state level.”

Brock, a Pittsburg native who is a 22-year veteran of the Air Force, will oversee the establishment of policy and procedures for the operation of UAS in Kansas. Among his priorities are protecting the privacy and public safety of the state’s residents. The Kansas Department of Transportation also is exploring how to best incorporate the technology into their principle services.

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