UAS flight and operations degree option at K-State Polytechnic now led by Kurt Carraway

SALINA — Kurt Carraway has been named department head of the unmanned aircraft systems flight and operations program at Kansas State University Polytechnic Campus.

Currently the UAS executive director at the Applied Aviation Research Center at K-State Polytechnic, Carraway is expanding his leadership role to include overseeing the undergraduate degree option. With expertise in flight training, flight operations, FAA regulations, research and development, data analysis, and industry partnerships, Carraway will continue to advance the program’s reputation of providing students with relevant, hands-on learning, research opportunities and real-world experiences.

“The Applied Aviation Research Center has seen an evolution with Kurt at the helm of the UAS program. He has broadened the center’s training offerings, research capabilities and professional relationships, and because of that growth, increased the size of the staff and student workers,” said Alysia Starkey, CEO of K-State Polytechnic and dean of the College of Technology and Aviation. “His dedication to innovation has earned the center notoriety as a leader in UAS policy, testing and training, and I’m excited to see Kurt harness these incredible accomplishments for the undergraduate program.”

As unmanned aviation continues to evolve, Carraway believes it is important for the program to add new courses and modify existing curriculum to ensure it remains relevant to industry demands. He will help manage the balance between keeping critical foundational classes and creating specialized classes, such as a larger library of technical electives. He also is exploring allowing students to select from specific focus areas related to certain career paths so required ratings or skills can be obtained by those interested in the field but is not an obligation of every UAS student.

“I am honored to serve in this new capacity, and the transition will bring together the amazing faculty in our UAS flight and operations program with the subject matter experts at the Applied Aviation Research Center, ensuring the best possible experience for our enrolled students,” Carraway said. “I am fueled by the energy of our faculty and staff regarding this realignment, and look forward to working on developing and advancing strategic goals, such as finding ways to extend our reach through community colleges and high schools.”

When Carraway joined K-State Polytechnic in 2014, he brought a 25-year manned and unmanned aviation career in the U.S. Air Force, including serving as a flight evaluator and instructor in the KC-135 and RQ-4 Global Hawk training schools. After retiring as a colonel, Carraway was hired as flight operations manager at the campus’s Applied Aviation Research Center and then was promoted to UAS program manager before UAS executive director.

Under Carraway’s guidance at the Applied Aviation Research Center, K-State Polytechnic became the first entity in the nation to receive approval from the Federal Aviation Administration to provide UAS commercial flight training to students. The center also received approval from the FAA to conduct UAS flights at night and was granted a waiver from the FAA to fly beyond visual line of sight, which was introduced into the UAS flight and operations curriculum for students.

A native of St. Louis, Missouri, Carraway received a Bachelor of Science in mechanical engineering at Missouri University of Science and Technology in Rolla. During his service, Carraway also completed a Master of Science in systems engineering at the Air Force Institute of Technology on the Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, Ohio, and a Master of Arts in management from Webster University in St. Louis, Missouri.

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