SALINA — With aerospace engineering degrees already in the works, two students from Tuskegee University in Alabama are heightening their collegiate experience by spending the summer studying unmanned aircraft systems at Kansas State University Salina.
Tuskegee’s Sidney Walker, a senior from Augusta, Ga., and Benjamin Bradley, a senior from Lamar, S.C., got the idea to study the emerging field of unmanned aircraft systems, or UAS, from one of their professors who also serves as a K-State Salina adjunct professor. K-State Salina was one of two universities in the nation to first offer a bachelor’s degree in unmanned aircraft systems, and Tuskegee University, though historically known for its connection to the Tuskegee Airmen, does not currently have any piloting classes, manned or unmanned. Bradley and Walker say they jumped at the chance to broaden their curriculum and add to their resumes.
“I nagged our professor every day about coming to K-State Salina to study,” Bradley said. “I knew this was an opportunity I just couldn’t pass up.”
“Studying unmanned systems will definitely give us an edge in the job market,” Walker said. “Our peers in aerospace engineering will most likely not have experience with UAS, so this training will set us apart.”
Bradley and Walker arrived on campus Memorial Day weekend and began Introduction to Unmanned Aircraft Systems two days later. Though it may not sound very extensive, Kurt Barnhart, associate dean for research and engagement at K-State Salina and instructor for the class, says the temporary Tuskegee transplants are actually learning at a more advanced level.
“Their classroom instruction is more in-depth, they have extended lab time and they are working on a project that would normally be given to students in their second or third year,” Barnhart said. “This opportunity is the definition of a personal learning environment, and Benjamin and Sidney demonstrate every day that this educational partnership has been a success.”