UAS program confers first degree

By MICHAEL STRAND

Salina Journal

Imagine majoring in a field that is set for untold growth in the next 10 years — and being one of the first five people in the country with that degree.

That’s the enviable position Zach Powell finds himself in this spring.

Powell, from Colorado Springs, was among about 90 people graduating Saturday from Kansas State University at Salina — and the first ever to earn a bachelor’s degree in the school’s new unmanned aerial systems program.

He also earned degrees in professional pilot and technology management and said he was well on his way to those degrees when the UAS program opened two years ago.

Combines studies

Powell described the program as “very enjoyable. I got to learn along the way with the instructors, figuring out what works best, and what the program needed.”

The UAS program combines courses in pilot, aviation maintenance, electronics technology, plus courses specific to learning to fly and maintain unmanned aircraft.

“The flying part, I already had,” he said. “It’s a very well-rounded program — if you can fly an airplane, it’s pretty much the same as flying a UAS.”

Powell said he still has to finish his senior project, which involves building and flight-testing a small unmanned aircraft — which is what he’ll being doing in the early part of the summer.

http://www.saljournal.com/news/story/graduation2012-05-06T01-04-15