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K-State Today

March 19, 2014



Barnhart featured speaker at University of Kansas Dole Institute of Politics

By Julee Cobb

Left to right: Bill Lacy, Dole Institute director, Kurt Barnhart, Shawn Keshmiri and Bill Donovan. Photo credit: Anrenee Reasor, Dole Institute of Politics

As interest in unmanned aircraft systems, or UAS, continues to grow and clarification is often needed about their capabilities, Kansas State University Salina proves once again why it's a trusted source in the developing industry.

Kurt Barnhart, the executive director of the Applied Aviation Research Center at K-State Salina and the aviation department head, was asked to be a featured speaker by the University of Kansas Dole Institute of Politics at its inaugural Innovations Series. On March 11, Barnhart joined KU assistant professor of aerospace engineering, Shawn Keshmiri, and Bill Donovan of Pulse Aerospace on a panel discussing nonmilitary operations for unmanned aircraft systems in the program, "Branching Out: Exploring New Uses for Drones."

"In looking for our potential speakers, it did not take much research to discover that Dr. Barnhart is a leader in Kansas with his work in unmanned aircraft systems," said Melanie Coen, marketing and events coordinator at the Dole Institute of Politics. "The focus of Tuesday night’s program was on new uses for drones in fields such as search and rescue, disaster relief, environmental science and agriculture. We felt Dr. Barnhart’s experience applying UAS technology in environmental sciences, security and agriculture at the Applied Aviation Research Center would provide the depth and diversity we were looking for in a speaker on this topic."

K-State Salina is one of the first two universities in the nation to offer a Bachelor of Science in unmanned aircraft systems and Barnhart is always excited for an opportunity to proudly display the depth of the program.

"I think being invited to be a part of the conversation is an expression of our program's strength and reputation that we've built over these past seven years, both domestically and internationally," Barnhart said.

The Innovations Series at the Dole Institute of Politics was created after a successful multidisciplinary program that KU held on sustainability and health issues a couple of years ago. Coen says the institute was looking for ways to highlight politics and their intersection with the many fields, industries and facets of our daily lives.