Dr. Kurt Barnhart - Aviation Dept. Head & Exec. Dir., AARC • 785-826-2972

Dr. Barnhart is Professor and Head of the Aviation Department at Kansas State University in addition to serving as the executive director of the Applied Aviation Research Center which oversees the newly established Unmanned Aerial Systems program office.  Dr. Barnhart is a member of the graduate faculty at K-State and holds a commercial pilot certificate with instrument, multi-engine, seaplane and glider ratings.  He also is a certified flight instructor with instrument and multi-engine ratings.  Dr. Barnhart also holds an airframe and powerplant certificate with inspection authorization.  Dr. Barnhart holds an A.S. in Aviation Maintenance Technology from Vincennes University, a B.S. in aviation administration from Purdue University, an MBAA from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, and a Ph.D. in educational administration from Indiana State University.  Dr Barnhart’s Research agenda is focused in aviation psychology and Human Factors.  His industry experience includes work as a R&D inspector with Rolls Royce Engine Company, and systems instructor for American Trans-Air airlines. Most Recently Dr. Barnhart was an Associate Professor and Acting Department Chair of the Aerospace Technology at Indiana State University where he was responsible for teaching flight and upper division administrative classes. Dr. Barnhart is an invited speaker at Bombardier’s international Safety Standdown in Kansas.

Mark Blanks – UAS Program Manager, AARC • 785-826-7170

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 at the age of 17 and his instrument rating two years later. Mr. Blanks graduated from Middle Tennessee State University (MTSU) with a B.S. degree in Aerospace Maintenance Management followed by a M.S. degree in Aviation Systems from the University of Tennessee Space Institute (UTSI).
Mr. Blanks has held a variety of positions in the aviation industry including aircraft maintenance, flight test, and aircraft certification. He joined the faculty of MTSU in 2009 as an aviation maintenance instructor. While at MTSU, Mr. Blanks was instrumental in the formation of the university's Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Program and he moved into a full-time UAS position at MTSU in the spring of 2011. Mr. Blanks became the Interim Director of the MTSU UAS Program in the spring of 2012.
In January 2013, Mr. Blanks accepted the position of UAS Program Manager for Kansas State University. In his current role, Mr. Blanks oversees the growth and development of the K-State UAS Program through joint cultivation of the academic and research programs. He manages a staff of highly skilled UAS professionals that perform hundreds of UAS flights per year in civil and restricted airspace. Throughout his career, Mr. Blanks has successfully coordinated and completed numerous research projects for federal agencies, private sponsors, and internal university groups.
Mr. Blanks is a federally licensed Airframe & Powerplant (A&P) 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 UAS into the National Airspace System.

Michael Most - Assoc. Professor, Aviation • 785-826-2681

Dr. Michael Most is the academic lead for the Unmanned Aircraft Systems Program at Kansas State University. Dr. Most earned his doctorate in geographic information systems (GIS) and remote sensing at Southern Illinois University and his master's degree in photography from Central Washington University. He earned a Bachelor of Business Administration in aviation management from Boise State University. He also holds airframe and powerplant mechanic and private pilot certifications. Dr. Most has authored numerous articles for technical and refereed journals on aviation, aircraft design and the use of GIS to investigate aviation related environmental externalities. He has also delivered several peer-reviewed papers on these same topics. He is currently working as contributing author and co-editor, on the second edition of "Introduction to Unmanned Aircraft Systems" to be published by Taylor and Francis. Before coming to K-State, Dr. Most was an associate professor and chair of the Department of Aviation Technologies at Southern Illinois University.


Richard Brown – UAS Chief Mechanic

Richard Brown has been the chief UAS mechanic at Kansas State University Salina since 2010 and is responsible for building, operating and maintaining K-State's unmanned aircraft and helicopters and their associated payloads. Brown holds a Bachelor of Science in aviation management from Ohio University and an Associate of Applied Science in aviation maintenance from Columbus State Community College in Columbus, Ohio. He is FAA certified as a private pilot as well as a certified airframe and powerplant technician. Brown previously worked as an aircraft maintenance technician in the corporate, airline and heavy maintenance environments.


Nathan Maresch – Research Lab Technologist

Nathan Maresch is a Lab Technologist at Kansas State University Salina.  He graduated summa cum laude with a Bachelor of Science degree from Kansas State University in Electronic and Computer Engineering Technology.  He served as a lab instructor for various Engineering Technology labs in the program.  After graduating in 2009, he joined the UAS initiative to research the miniaturization of electronic circuits.  He designed a two-dimensional obstacle avoidance system utilizing Fuzzy Logic, and is currently participating in a project involving wireless power charging.  He holds a private pilot certificate and has some industry experience in industrial controls and automation.  He is a member of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers and the Phi Kappa Phi honor society.