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K-State Today

January 18, 2018

Kansas State Polytechnic students visit Washington, D.C., to learn aviation policymaking

By Julee Cobb

Kansas State Polytechnic students enrolled in an aviation legislation course visit the U.S. Senate during a recent trip to Washington, D.C.

Students from Kansas State University's Polytechnic Campus received a unique learning opportunity during winter intersession when they traded in their classroom for the United States capital.

Eleven students enrolled in an aviation legislation course at Kansas State Polytechnic visited Washington, D.C., Jan. 2-5 to experience how aviation policy is made. The students, who range from three different degree options — professional pilot, airport management and technology management — attended the University Aviation Association's Aviation Policy Seminar where they studied a variety of current industry challenges, met with aviation professionals and lawmakers, and networked with students from other colleges and universities.

"This was a valuable opportunity for our students to get a glimpse at the larger picture of aviation," said professor Troy Brockway, who teaches Aviation Legislation and supervised the students during their trip. "It is one thing to learn rules and regulations that you have to abide by in the industry, but it is just as important to understand where those policies come from, how they are researched and implemented, and who they affect and benefit."

At the beginning of the seminar, students were given a specific policy area in which to focus: unmanned aircraft systems integration, air traffic control modernization, airport infrastructure funding or airline consolidation/pilot shortage. Then, they divided into their chosen groups and worked together on a project that they presented on the final day.

Jerad Jaros, senior in professional pilot, Freeland, Michigan, joined the mix of students studying airline consolidation and the pilot shortage, and says the experience opened his eyes to the magnitude of the dilemma and how it is influencing his future profession.

"Because my main focus at school is flying, it was great to get a behind-the-scenes look at the aviation industry and what issues could have an impact on me," Jaros said. "I knew about the pilot shortage, but attending this seminar put into perspective its urgency. I realized just how many people affect my industry and keep it functioning, so it is very important that this problem is solved."

In addition to their collaborative assignment, students at the seminar learned about other aviation topics in breakout groups. They also toured the locations of several aviation organizations, including the Air Line Pilots Association, the National Transportation Safety Board, the Federal Aviation Administration, the Regional Airline Association and the National Business Aviation Association. And during their time off, the students visited historic sites like Washington Monument, Lincoln Memorial and Capitol Hill.

Along with Jaros, the Kansas State Polytechnic students who attended the University Aviation Association's Aviation Policy Seminar in Washington, D.C. include: Maxamillyan Badgett, Skylar Caldwell, Evan Fowler, Megan Laubhan, Christopher Pennington, Frederic Peters, Joshua Rigsby, Keegan Swanson, Logan Welch and Josh White.

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