Kansas' first-ever UAS director to have part-time residency at Kansas State University's Polytechnic Campus
Thursday, July 7, 2016
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. | Download this photo.
SALINA — 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.
"Our team will work very closely with the FAA, universities and aviation leaders to deliver systems that make Kansas safer, provide economic growth and also save time and money," Brock said.
The UAS program at Kansas State Polytechnic launched in 2007 in response to a devastating EF5 tornado that destroyed 95 percent of Greensburg. The storm prompted state legislators to assist in starting a UAS program that would work to improve disaster response and public safety using drone technology. Since that time, the UAS program has transformed from offering a few classes and then a certificate to now providing two bachelor's degrees and a minor.
"Our contribution to the expansion of UAS is core to our campus's mission, and part of that is connecting education with industry — our students with their future careers," said Verna Fitzsimmons, the dean and CEO of Kansas State Polytechnic. "We are thrilled to be a part of this collaboration of great partners because it's through this teamwork that more jobs will be created in Kansas and we will maintain the campus's position as a leader in the industry."
Kansas State Polytechnic's UAS program was recently ranked No. 2 in the nation out of 20 schools by Drone Training HQ.