Moran announces .5 million federal grant for drone facility at K-State Salina |  tidings

SALINA — U.S. Sen. Jerry Moran, R-Kan., on Tuesday announced a $33.5 million grant for aerospace and aviation training at K-State’s Salina campus.

The federal dollars will help fund a new facility at Kansas State University’s Salina Aerospace and Technology Campus and launch a training partnership with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

“I have a dream for this state,” Moran said. “I want Kansas to be a place where our students, our kids who are interested in science, math, engineering and research, have a place to get an education and, ultimately, a place to have a career.” and to raise their families.”

K-State Salina CEO and Dean Alyssa Starkey said it took two years to approve the federal grants.

The new facility on campus will cost $28 million and focus on aerospace innovation and training.

“This facility will serve as a new home for our flight and aerospace research center,” Starkey said. “This move will allow our research to continue its expansion into new aerospace technologies that support advanced aeromobility in commercial space applications.”

Starkey said the facility will also be home to the aviation maintenance training center, which will double the amount of space for aviation maintenance training.

Another $5.5 million will fund operations, research and facilities for a full-motion flight simulator, which will help NOAA train its pilots to hunt down storms.

“We are working to give NOAA all the tools to train their workforce in Salina, Kansas,” Moran said. “They chose us because of the capabilities of K-State Salina.”

This new aviation technology includes unmanned aircraft – basically drones – and electric propulsion.

Moran said Kansas’ economy relies on industries such as agriculture, energy and manufacturing, but he plans to invest in the aviation industry so it can grow into a stronger economic pillar for the state.

“Aerospace and aviation is certainly a logical place for us to continue to work,” he said. “Although we want to see science, research and engineering taking place elsewhere as well.”

Moran’s goal for the state includes providing more jobs in the aviation industry, so students who complete their education at K-State Salina don’t have to leave Kansas to find work in the field.

Moran hopes to attract defense, NASA and the private sector interested in training their employees at K-State Salina.

“If we only educate and train our kids, our students, at K-State Salina, but they don’t have a future in Kansas, we just change the future of the state,” Moran said. “The goal is to do both.”

Starkey said K-State Salina is moving immediately into the design phase with architects.

“We’ve done some preliminary work in that particular area, so we’re ready to start working with some architects to help refine those plans,” Starkey said.

Starkey said now is a great time for people to be in the aviation field because there is a high demand for aviation mechanics and pilots. With today’s technological advances and changing materials, the aviation industry needs people who work in electronics and composites.

“It’s a great time for prospective students and others to enter the workforce now,” Starkey said.

Moran said that aviation cannot live in the past because the science and technology for that field is developing rapidly. He said that K-State has the necessary resources and assets to stay up-to-date with advanced research.

“This is about changing the environment of our state so that wherever you want to settle, Kansas is the place you look first,” Moran said. “This means that all the institutions, research and businesses that are involved in aviation are involved in research about aviation and must come together so that Kansas can be the aviation capital of the world.”

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