Dr. Kurt Barnhart – AARC Director
Dr. Barnhart is Professor and Head of the Aviation Department at Kansas State University in addition to serving as the executive director of the Applied Aviation Research Center which oversees the newly established Unmanned Aerial Systems program office. Dr. Barnhart is a member of the graduate faculty at K-State and holds a commercial pilot certificate with instrument, multi-engine, seaplane and glider ratings. He also is a certified flight instructor with instrument and multi-engine ratings. Dr. Barnhart also holds an airframe and powerplant certificate with inspection authorization. Dr. Barnhart holds an A.S. in Aviation Maintenance Technology from Vincennes University, a B.S. in aviation administration from Purdue University, an MBAA from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, and a Ph.D. in educational administration from Indiana State University. Dr Barnhart’s Research agenda is focused in aviation psychology and Human Factors. His industry experience includes work as a R&D inspector with Rolls Royce Engine Company, and systems instructor for American Trans-Air airlines. Most Recently Dr. Barnhart was an Associate Professor and Acting Department Chair of the Aerospace Technology at Indiana State University where he was responsible for teaching flight and upper division administrative classes. Dr. Barnhart is an invited speaker at Bombardier’s international Safety Standdown in Kansas.
Dr. Saeed Khan – AARC Technology Research
Dr. Saeed M. Khan joined Kansas State University in 1997 and was made Engineering Technology Department Head in 2008. He chaired the task force for establishing the Professional Master of Technology degree at Kansas State University at Salina.
Khan has been awarded grants and contracts in excess of $3 million from several sources including the National Science Foundation and the Air Force Office of Scientific Research. He has received a first place and a second place award for papers in the Midwest-Section of the American Association of Engineering Education.
He has served as the chair of the College Diversity Committee and the college representative on the President’s Council of Multicultural Affairs. Khan has also served as co-chair for the technical session on “Mobile Antennas, RF and Wireless Communication” at the 2008 Progress in Electromagnetic Research Symposium held in Cambridge, MA.
Mark Blanks –UAS Program Manager
Mark Blanks was born and raised in Middle Tennessee and has been involved in the aviation industry for most of his life. He began flying at the age of 16, earned his private pilot's license at the age of 17 and his instrument rating two years later. Mr. Blanks graduated from Middle Tennessee State University (MTSU) with a B.S. degree in Aerospace Maintenance Management followed by a M.S. degree in Aviation Systems from the University of Tennessee Space Institute (UTSI).
Mr. Blanks has held a variety of positions in the aviation industry including aircraft maintenance, flight test, and aircraft certification. He joined the faculty of MTSU in 2009 as an aviation maintenance instructor. While at MTSU, Mr. Blanks was instrumental in the formation of the university's Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Program and he moved into a full-time UAS position at MTSU in the spring of 2011. Mr. Blanks became the Interim Director of the MTSU UAS Program in the spring of 2012.
In January 2013, Mr. Blanks accepted the position of UAS Program Manager for Kansas State University. In his current role, Mr. Blanks oversees the growth and development of the K-State UAS Program through joint cultivation of the academic and research programs. He manages a staff of highly skilled UAS professionals that perform hundreds of UAS flights per year in civil and restricted airspace. Throughout his career, Mr. Blanks has successfully coordinated and completed numerous research projects for federal agencies, private sponsors, and internal university groups.
Mr. Blanks is a federally licensed Airframe & Powerplant (A&P) technician and also serves as the chairman for the ASTM F38-02 Subcommittee on UAS Flight Operations and is actively involved in research to support the integration of UAS into the National Airspace System.
Eric Shappee – UAS Lead Professor
Eric Shappee serves as an associate professor of aviation at Kansas State University at Salina in the professional pilot program. Professor Shappee teaches numerous aviation course to include: Introduction to Aviation, System Safety, Safety Management, and Introduction to Unmanned Aerial Systems. He holds a commercial pilot certificate with instrument, multi-engine, and glider ratings. He is also a certified flight instructor with gold seal. Professor Eric Shappee holds two Associate Degrees from Antelope Valley College, a Bachelors in Aeronautical Science and a Master in Aeronautical Science and Safety from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. Professor Shappee’s main area of focus in aviation is safety. He has developed several risk assessment tools for the University and other aviation organizations. Further, he was named as a member of the International Society of Air Safety Investigators, a membership earned through professional service and experience. Professor Shappee has been active in the field of aviation since 1986 and teaching since 1995. During his career in aviation, professor Shappee has also spent time working with unmanned aerial systems including the Predator, and Aerosonde.
Kirk Demuth – UAS Chief Pilot
K irk Demuth is a 2007 graduate of Kansas State University Salina with degrees in professional pilot and technology management. Demuth returns to K-State after spending time in the industry, gaining invaluable knowledge and experience. After graduation, Demuth served as chief pilot and maintenance director for Chalk 2 Aviation in Victorville, Cal., where he accumulated more than 1,000 hours of unmanned aircraft vehicle formation flying as a chase plane observer for the Predator and Reaper -- military unmanned aircraft vehicles. He spent the last two years involved in intensive research and development and flight testing of unmanned helicopter systems for a UAS manufacturer.
Richard Brown – UAS Chief Mechanic
Dr. Ed Plett – UAS Sense and Avoid Research
Dr. Raju Dandu – UAS Sense and Avoid Research
Dr. Raju Dandu is a member of the American Society for Engineering Education, the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, the Society of Automotive Engineers, and the Society of Manufacturing Engineers. He has received the Award of Merit from the Society of Manufacturing Engineers and the ASEE Outstanding Zone Campus Representative Award for Zone III. He was named K-State Salina Professor of the Year and was an Outstanding Faculty Advisor nominee. He received the Marchbanks Teaching Excellence Award and was nominated for the Macarthur Family Faculty Fellowship Award.
He is the principal investigator of a National Science Foundation-funded $500,000 S-STEM ELITE Scholarship grant. He was an invited panelist to review graduate fellowship applications for NASA, National Defense Science and Engineering Graduate Department of Defense, and American Society for Engineering Education. He received a mini grant for a K-State Faculty Orientation Trip for Curriculum and Faculty Development in South Asian Studies. He has also served as Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology Program Evaluator on International visits to Saudi Arabia and Peru. He is fluent in English, Slovak, Czech, Russian, and Telugu; he understands Spanish, Arabic and Hindi; and is familiar with German and Italian.
He has been a program evaluator for Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology, chair of American Society of Mechanical Engineers’ Mechanical Engineering Technology Department Heads Committee, Secretary for the American Society of Mechanical Engineers Committee on Engineering Technology Accreditation, chair of Society of Mechanical Engineers Student Relations Committee and of SME Senior Chapter 230, and the American Society for Engineering Education Midwest Campus Representative.
Dandu previously worked as a senior engineer at the Tajoura Nuclear Research Center in Libya, and has had summer fellowships at Oak Ridge and Sandia National Laboratories and summer work at KASA Industrial Controls. He continues to be a consultant in CE Certification and product design, development, and testing for multiple companies and has received work force training in equipment maintenance for food industries.
Dandu holds a Ph.D. in mechanical engineering from North Dakota State University, an M.S. and a B.S. in mechanical, thermal, and nuclear power engineering, both from Slovak Technical University in Czechoslovakia, and an LAE in Automobile Engineering from Andhra Polytechnic.
Dr. Dale Schinstock – UAS SLAM Research
Nathan Maresch – Wireless RF Power
Nathan Maresch is a Lab Technologist at Kansas State University at Salina. He graduated summa cum laude with a Bachelor of Science degree from Kansas State University in Electronic and Computer Engineering Technology. He served as a lab instructor for various Engineering Technology labs in the program. After graduating in 2009, he joined the UAS initiative to research the miniaturization of electronic circuits. He designed a two-dimensional obstacle avoidance system utilizing Fuzzy Logic, and is currently participating in a project involving wireless power charging. He holds a private pilot certificate and has some industry experience in industrial controls and automation. He is a member of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers and the Phi Kappa Phi honor society.
Aaron Westerman – UAS Sense and Avoid Research
Aaron Westerman has been at Kansas State University Salina since 2004. He holds a B.S. in electronics engineering technology from Kansas State University. He is a member of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers and the American Society for Engineering Education. He sits on the Faculty Student Affairs Committee and the Career Committee, and has been a faculty advisor for the K-State Gamers’ Board since 2004. Previously, he worked as a Senior Controls Engineer for KASA Industrial Controls.
Matthew Williamson – UAS Sense and Avoid Research
Matthew J. Williamson, PE joined Kansas State University in 2006. He has served as Construction Engineering Technology Program Coordinator from this time to the present. Matthew teaches several courses in Engineering Technology, some in Mechanical and Electronics program areas.
Through grant-funded research, Williamson has been studying the modeling of thermal management for wireless power systems. His work was published at the annual COMSOL Multiphysics Conference in Boston, MA in October, 2011.