Kansas State University Polytechnic, working with the City of Salina, is launching a “global aeronautic initiative”. Kansas State University President Richard Myers addressed city commissioners, and made the official announcement at a special meeting late Tuesday afternoon.
The purpose of the initiative is to grow Unmanned Aerial Systems, also known as UAS or drones, in Salina. Through the initiative, both research and career opportunities will blossom. The goal is to attract aerospace firms to Salina, and to train students and workers to meet the needs of the quickly growing industry.
The Kansas State University Polytechnic campus in Salina is one of the premiere schools of its kind in the country. Dean Verna Fitzsimmons said that the professional pilot program at the university is one of the top 10 in the country, while the UAS program is one of the top two in the country.
The Kansas State campus in Salina boasts one of the largest enclosed unmanned flight facilities in the nation. 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 Hills 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.