Kansas State University Salina's Blanks joins representatives from Google and Amazon on international unmanned vehicle systems board
Thursday, June 4, 2015
SALINA — Kansas State University Salina's unmanned aircraft systems program continues to demonstrate its leadership in the industry with the election of one of its staff members to the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International, or AUVSI, board of directors.
Mark Blanks, UAS program manager, joins representatives from such companies as Google, Amazon and Textron Systems on the board.
The association is the world's largest nonprofit organization devoted exclusively to advancing the unmanned systems and robotics community through education, advocacy and leadership. Blanks is the only UAS-focused director to be selected from a university this year and will contribute his expertise of precision agriculture and other applications of unmanned systems during his term.
"With K-State's extensive history in agriculture and our UAS program's world-class researchers and educators, I'm excited about the impact our university will have within this organization," Blanks said. "AUVSI is undoubtedly influencing the future of UAS technology, which will revolutionize industries across the globe. Along with K-State's contribution, this new connection to AUVSI will, in return, open doors for the university."
As a member of the board, Blanks will be responsible for collaborating with other members to determine the association's strategic direction and goals, setting policies for the conduct of its business, approving budgets and monitoring finances, increasing unmanned systems advocacy on Capitol Hill, and developing education and outreach for the public on the benefits of UAS. Blanks' term officially started on May 5 after his elected position was announced at the association's annual conference in Atlanta. He will serve on the board of directors until 2018.
"The university highly values its relationship with AUVSI, and this is a great way for K-State to give back to the organization while we're able to continue building strategic external relationships in the UAS industry," said Kurt Barnhart, K-State Salina's associate dean of research and engagement. "We are proud of Mark and his accomplishments and for how his leadership is taking the K-State Salina UAS program to the next level."
"Mark is such a strong advocate for our UAS program, whether it's building partnerships with industries during research, mentoring our students or educating the community on UAS technology," said Verna Fitzsimmons, CEO and dean of K-State Salina. "I am delighted he is representing the university and this honor is well deserved."
Blanks currently leads multiple federally funded research projects at K-State Salina, including validating UAS industry consensus standards and refining natural resource management applications of unmanned systems. Blanks also serves as the chair for the ASTM F38-02 subcommittee on unmanned aircraft systems flight operations. He has been with the university since January 2013.
The Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International has 21 members serving on the board of directors with six of those directors being newly elected this year, including Blanks. The association has 7,500 individual members and more than 625 corporate members worldwide.