Dr. Kurt Barnhart
Associate Dean of Research and Engagement
Executive Director of the Applied Aviation Research Center
Dr. Kurt Barnhart has been a member of the Kansas State University Salina faculty since 2007. He is currently the associate dean of research and engagement as well as the executive director of the Applied Aviation Research Center, which oversees the unmanned aircraft systems program office. Previously, Dr. Barnhart was an associate professor and acting department chair of aerospace technology at Indiana State University. He was also a research and development inspector with Rolls Royce and an aircraft systems instructor with American Trans Air Airlines.
Dr. Barnhart holds an Associate of Science in aviation maintenance technology from Vincennes University, a Bachelor of Science in aeronautics from Purdue University, a Master of Business Administration in aviation from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University and a Ph.D. in educational leadership from Indiana State University.
In addition, Dr. Barnhart has been flying for 30 years and has a commercial pilot certificate with instrument, multi-engine, seaplane and glider ratings. He is a certified flight instructor with instrument and multi-engine ratings and also holds an airframe and powerplant certificate with inspection authorization.
Dr. Barnhart's connection with aviation first began when he was born on a U.S. military installation in Wiesbaden, Germany. He took his first flight with his parents at two weeks old and began traveling through airports by himself around the third grade. Dr. Barnhart started taking flying lessons at age 16 and has even taught his mother to fly.
UAS Program Manager, AARC
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 the following year and his instrument rating at 19 years old.
Blanks graduated from Middle Tennessee State University (MTSU) with a Bachelor of Science in aerospace maintenance management followed by a Master of Science in aviation systems from the University of Tennessee Space Institute. Blanks has worked in a variety of areas in the aviation industry including aircraft maintenance, flight test and aircraft certification. He joined the MTSU faculty in 2009 as an aviation maintenance instructor and was instrumental in forming the university's unmanned aircraft systems program. In 2011, Blanks was promoted into a fulltime UAS position and the next year became the interim director of Middle Tennessee State University's UAS program.
In January 2013, Blanks accepted the position of UAS program manager at K-State Salina where he oversees the growth and development of the program through joint cultivation of academics and research. He also supervises a staff of highly skilled UAS professionals that perform hundreds of flight missions per year in civil and restricted airspace.
Throughout his career, Blanks has successfully coordinated and completed numerous research projects for federal agencies, private sponsors and internal university groups. Blanks is a federally licensed airframe and powerplant 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 unmanned aircraft into the National Airspace System.
Assoc. Professor, Aviation
Dr. Michael Most is the academic lead for the unmanned aircraft systems program at K-State Salina. Dr. Most holds a Bachelor of Business Administration in aviation management from Boise State University and a master's degree in photography from Central Washington University. Dr. Most earned his Ph.D. in geographic information systems and remote sensing at Southern Illinois University and later became an associate professor and chair of the department of aviation technologies at SIU. He also holds an airframe and powerplant mechanic certification as well as a private pilot's license.
Dr. Most has authored numerous articles for technical and refereed journals on aviation, aircraft design and the use of geographic information systems to investigate aviation related environmental externalities. He has also delivered several peer-reviewed papers on these same topics. Dr. Most is currently working as a contributing author and co-editor on the second edition of "Introduction to Unmanned Aircraft Systems" that will be published by Taylor and Francis.
UAS Chief Mechanic
Research Lab Technologist
Nathan Maresch is a K-State Salina alumnus, graduating summa cum laude with a Bachelor of Science in electronic and computer engineering technology. Maresch served as an instructor for various engineering technology labs at K-State Salina before joining the UAS initiative to research the miniaturization of electronic circuits. He has designed a two-dimensional obstacle avoidance system utilizing Fuzzy Logic and is currently participating in a project involving wireless power charging. Maresch holds a private pilot's license and has industry experience in industrial controls and automation. He is a member of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers and belongs to the Phi Kappa Phi honor society.