Kansas State Polytechnic’s Civic Luncheon Lecture Series to explore First Amendment rights

By Julee Cobb

Stephen Wolgast, assistant professor of journalism and digital media at Kansas State University, will lead a presentation on "Free Speech in Times of Crisis" at the Kansas State University Polytechnic Campus on Feb. 16.

Stephen Wolgast, assistant professor of journalism and digital media at Kansas State University, will lead a presentation on “Free Speech in Times of Crisis” at the Kansas State University Polytechnic Campus on Feb. 16.

In a time where the legitimacy of news and journalism is being challenged and freedom of speech as a whole has taken center stage in the public eye, Kansas State University’s Polytechnic Campus will explore the principles of the country’s First Amendment in its latest Civic Luncheon Lecture Series.

“Free Speech in Times of Crisis” will be presented at noon Thursday, Feb. 16, at Kansas State Polytechnic’s College Center conference room. Stephen Wolgast, assistant professor of journalism and digital media at Kansas State University, will lead the discussion. Bob Protzman, general manager of Rocking M Media, will act as the moderator.

The First Amendment grants U.S. citizens the right to express their opinions, including times when society is under stress. This presentation will look at the reasons free speech is protected and provide current examples of how it’s being questioned. Wolgast, who previously worked in newspaper journalism for 19 years, including nine years as an editor at The New York Times, also will cover the topics of news bias and the popularity of the term “fake news.”

“One of the jobs the press has is to hold a mirror to society,” Wolgast said. “That’s why we have to report on the failings of government and institutions, even if it upsets the powers that be. If the press can motivate people to act when things aren’t going well, then by one measure the press has succeeded.”

The Civic Luncheon Lecture Series is free and the public is invited. Attendees are welcome to eat during the discussion, and can bring their own lunch or purchase a lunch at the K-State Café and then bring their tray into the conference room.

Greg Stephens, an associate professor of communication and business management at Kansas State Polytechnic, created the Civic Luncheon Lecture Series to provide the campus and the community with an opportunity to learn about and participate in various current events impacting local issues. This presentation, in particular, is made possible in part by the Kansas Humanities Council. For more information on the series, contact Stephens at 785-819-6887 or gregs@k-state.edu.

 

Terri Gaeddert joins Kansas State Polytechnic as director of academic operations

By Julee Cobb

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By Julee Cobb

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

the Smoky Hills UAS Pavilion

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

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

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

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

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

Kansas State Polytechnic Flight Team advances to nationals, senior Chris Messing wins Top Pilot

By Julee Cobb

Members of the traveling Kansas State Polytechnic Flight Team pose with their awards from the National Intercollegiate Flying Association's SAFECON Region VI competition. Back row, from left: Jason Rohlf, Nicholas Terrapin, Scott Agee, faculty adviser Benjamin Jaffee, team captain Austin Bally, Caleb Strahm and Zachariah Smith; and front row, from left: Jacob Mitchell, Matthew Katzke, Maddie Perry, Chris Messing, Mason McMillan and Christopher Pennington.

Members of the traveling Kansas State Polytechnic Flight Team pose with their awards from the National Intercollegiate Flying Association’s SAFECON Region VI competition. Back row, from left: Jason Rohlf, Nicholas Terrapin, Scott Agee, faculty adviser Benjamin Jaffee, team captain Austin Bally, Caleb Strahm and Zachariah Smith; and front row, from left: Jacob Mitchell, Matthew Katzke, Maddie Perry, Chris Messing, Mason McMillan and Christopher Pennington.

The Kansas State Polytechnic Flight Team has landed the honor of competing on a national stage after qualifying in regional play with a third-place finish as well as winning several individual awards.

Attending the National Intercollegiate Flying Association’s SAFECON competition Oct. 17-20 in Norman, Oklahoma, the flight team — from Kansas State University’s Polytechnic Campus — battled it out against other colleges in its region for the chance to advance to the national championship. After participating in a variety of events consisting of tests both on the ground and in the air, the Kansas State Polytechnic Flight Team placed third overall, securing its spot at nationals in May 2017.

“During the weeks leading up to regionals, the team spent many hours working on the intricacies of each event, and then during the competition, everyone did an excellent job of executing what they had learned,” said Austin Bally, Wichita, a senior in professional pilot and captain of the flight team. “Along with the third-place team finish, we earned several top 10 placings in the ground events and many top five scores in the flight events. Our success was a collaborative effort and proved that practice pays off.”

The Kansas State Polytechnic Flight Team faced six other universities during the SAFECON regional: Oklahoma State University, which placed first; University of Nebraska, Omaha, which came in second; Southeastern Oklahoma State University; University of Central Missouri; St. Louis University, Parks College; and University of Oklahoma. Members of each team entered ground and flight events, such as landing a plane accurately in a designated area, recognizing different types of aircraft from ambiguous photos and attempting to hit a target while dropping an item from the air. Participants earned points for each event entered, which were then accumulated to score single event winners as well as the top three teams and the overall top pilot.

Chris Messing, a senior in the professional pilot program at Kansas State Polytechnic, wins the title of Top Pilot and is the Top Scoring Contestant at the National Intercollegiate Flying Association's SAFECON Region VI.

Chris Messing, a senior in the professional pilot program at Kansas State Polytechnic, wins the title of Top Pilot and is the Top Scoring Contestant at the National Intercollegiate Flying Association’s SAFECON Region VI.

One of the individual standout moments came from Kansas State Polytechnic senior Chris Messing, Wichita, who, because of his placings in seven events, accrued enough points to win both Top Scoring Contestant and the Top Pilot award out of more than 80 total participants from the seven universities. Messing, who enjoys the family atmosphere, networking and the continued opportunity to develop his aviation knowledge, says earning the principal honors was unexpected, but it has given him validation and confidence.

“Going into the competition, I just wanted to do my best so I could give my teammates the opportunity to experience nationals,” Messing said. “I’m proud to win these awards because they demonstrate that my hard work and preparation for the competition have been worth it. They also give me more confidence to know I can accomplish anything as long as I study, stay focused and do what’s right.”

Along with Messing, the following members of the Kansas State Polytechnic Flight Team competed at regionals; included are individual placings:

Nicholas Terrapin, junior, Alma, first in message drop, fifth in navigation, 22nd in aircraft recognition and 22nd in power-off landing; Mason McMillan, senior, Ozawkie, eighth in power-off landing, 10th in aircraft preflight inspection, 22nd in short field landing and 22nd in simulated comprehensive aircraft navigation; Caleb Strahm, freshman, Sabetha, 25th in computer accuracy; Austin Bally, senior, Wichita, second in power-off landing, fifth in navigation, 11th in computer accuracy, 14th in simulated comprehensive aircraft navigation and 16th in short field landing; and Maddie Perry, sophomore, Wichita, 15th in short field landing and 34th in computer accuracy.

Jacob Mitchell, junior, Foxfield, Colorado, eighth in navigation,ninth in aircraft preflight inspection, 10th in power-off landing and 22nd in computer accuracy; Jason Rohlf, freshman, Tipton, Iowa, second in aircraft recognition; Scott Agee, senior, Independence, Missouri, first in message drop, sixth in ground trainer, 13th in navigation, 24th in short field landing and 26th in simulated comprehensive aircraft navigation; Zachariah Smith, freshman, Hendersonville, North Carolina, 28th in aircraft recognition; Christopher Pennington, senior, El Paso, Texas, first in aircraft recognition; and Matthew Katzke, junior, Waukesha, Wisconsin, eighth in navigation, 21st in simulated comprehensive aircraft navigation and 23rd in computer accuracy.

The flight team has 20 members, with 12 on the travel team after a tryout process. Along with competing annually, flight team members also use their club as way to give back to the community and to connect children with aviation. Throughout the year the team is a part of several events like the All-University Open House and Candy Canes and Airplanes. It also conducts two aviation camps for kids and one for high school students in the summer.

In 2014, the flight team won the Loening Trophy at nationals, which is considered the oldest and most elite of all collegiate aviation awards. It recognized the team as having the most outstanding all-around aviation program in the country.

For more information on the flight team, including sponsorship, contact faculty adviser Benjamin Jaffee at 785-826-2978 or bjaffee@k-state.edu.

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

By Julee Cobb

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Engineering technology professor Raju Dandu receives Kansas State Polytechnic’s prestigious McArthur Award

By Julee Cobb

Raju Dandu, who has served the Polytechnic Campus for nearly 20 years in engineering technology, has been awarded the Rex McArthur Family Faculty Fellow Award for 2016.

Raju Dandu, who has served the Polytechnic Campus for nearly 20 years in engineering technology, has been awarded the Rex McArthur Family Faculty Fellow Award for 2016.

Engineering technology professor Raju Dandu, who has been a faculty member on the Kansas State University Polytechnic Campus for almost 20 years, has been named the recipient of the 2016 Rex McArthur Family Faculty Fellow Award. 

 

The McArthur distinction, which annually recognizes a Kansas State Polytechnic professor for teaching excellence, a commitment to research and honorable service to the university, college and community, was presented to Dandu during the campus’s Faculty and Professional Staff Showcase in September. Dandu was chosen for the award because of his leadership in several national engineering organizations and his involvement with the local engineering industry; but his selection is primarily because of the experience he provides his students, which is a mixture of professional knowledge and practical life lessons.

 

Dandu came from humble beginnings in Andhra Pradesh, India, a state on the country’s southeastern coast. His parents were only able to achieve a fifth grade level education, so he believed the responsibility of being a successful student fell solely on his shoulders. Dandu became committed to his education and graduated from high school – which stops at 10th grade in India – at the top of his class. While most students then go on to what is called intermediate school, Dandu skipped ahead and entered Andhra Polytechnic, an institute similar to a community college in the United States, for a three-year program in automobile engineering.

 

While the common next step was to land a job as a vehicle inspector in his state, Dandu was ambitious in his pursuits and driven to be different. He applied for a national study abroad competition in India, which gave its winners the opportunity to continue their education in a new country with all expenses paid. Dandu says his friends and classmates made fun of him for believing he had a chance at being chosen, but he proved them wrong.

 

After being selected as one of about 100 students from across the country for an interview, Dandu boarded a train by himself and traveled 36 hours to Delhi to make his case for entrance into the study abroad program. Dandu’s good grades, strong work ethic and enthusiasm impressed the judges and he was awarded a fully paid scholarship to study mechanical engineering in what is now Bratislava, Slovakia. 

 

For five years, Dandu worked on his master’s degree at the Slovak University of Technology, first studying general engineering and then specializing in thermal and nuclear power engineering. He next moved to Tripoli, Libya where, for four years, he was employed at a nuclear research facility. Dandu spent time in reactor maintenance and then was promoted to chief engineer for the radioactive waste management facility.

 

After living on three continents, Dandu was ready for his next adventure. He first went back to Slovakia to marry his wife, Kamila, whom he had met at the university in Bratislava. They applied for immigration to Canada, Australia and on the advice of a friend, the United States too. Dandu and Kamila ended up in Fargo, North Dakota, where he went to work on his doctorate in mechanical engineering. After completing his degree and teaching at North Dakota State University for a year, interestingly enough, Dandu was not finished traveling. 

 

Receiving an opportunity to pass on his passion for engineering, Dandu and his family moved to Puerto Rico where he was tasked, along with four other American professors, with building an engineering program for the University of Turabo. Dandu gave the project four years of his expertise, eventually helping it to become accredited with the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology, or ABET.

 

Dandu receiving the McArthur Award from Verna Fitzsimmons, CEO and dean of the Polytechnic Campus.

Dandu receives the Rex McArthur Family Faculty Fellow Award from Verna Fitzsimmons, CEO and dean of the Polytechnic Campus, during the Faculty and Professional Staff Showcase.

Because of how welcoming the people of Fargo had been to Dandu and his wife, when they moved back to the United States, he wanted to land somewhere in the Midwest. Dandu applied for an open position in the engineering technology department on Kansas State University’s Polytechnic Campus and was hired in 1997. Since that time, he has made it a point to include the lessons he has learned during his travels as part of the industry-relevant curriculum he provides.

 

“In all of my life pursuits and journeys, I have never been fearful of what lies ahead because I know that each new person, place or culture I have encountered is an opportunity for growth, knowledge and understanding,” said Dandu, who, through those world travels learned to speak several languages, including Telugu, English, Slovak, Czech, Spanish, Arabic and Hindi. “One of the messages I want to get across to my students is how important it is to be receptive to all life has to offer. Do not be afraid of the future, go into it with an open mind and embrace it.”

 

Dandu, who teaches mechanical engineering technology courses related to product design and development as well as senior project classes, also gives students the chance to apply their knowledge by working with local companies to solve real industry challenges. And students are able to successfully collaborate with professionals and build their skill level because he first instills in them confidence and drive.

 

“I strive to make learning easy and purposeful,” said Dandu. “Once you see purpose, it awakens your inner desire to learn and you become self-motivated. I want students to be inspired by their own ideas and believe it is possible to make them happen.”

 

Along with teaching bachelor’s level courses, Dandu helped start the campus’s graduate program in 2010 and served as its director for three years, from 2013 to 2016. Dandu is a commissioner for ABET, helping lead the teams that accredit various collegiate programs. He was elected to the board of directors for the American Society of Engineering Education, or ASEE, and is an active member of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers.

 

Dandu provides consulting for area engineering companies, has served on the Salina United Way board of directors in 2014 and actively connects his mechanical engineering technology classes with the local Boy Scouts of America to assist with their programming.

 

Though Dandu is proud of his professional accomplishments and world travels thus far, he also is honored to be part of the long list of winners of the McArthur Award.

 

“I want to thank the Rex McArthur family for their support of this campus and its professors by sponsoring an award like this,” said Dandu. “The value they place on education gives us professors inspiration to be better teachers.”

 

Dandu and wife Kamila make their home in Salina and have three children: Gautama, who graduated from K-State with a degree in civil engineering and currently is pursing his teaching certificate; Maya, who will graduate from Pittsburg State University in December; and Ajay, a senior at Salina High School South.

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.