In the News
K-State Salina celebrates new aviation program with Sen. Moran
Salina Journal | Jayden Smith
U.S. Sen. Jerry Moran joined officials from K-State Salina and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Friday afternoon to sign a memorandum of understanding to create a unique program involving the two entities.
The new undergraduate program will provide students with the science, technology, engineering and math skills to serve as officers and pilots within the NOAA Commissioned Officer Corps.
NOAA’s Rear Admiral Nancy Hann and K-State Salina Dean Alysia Starkey, Ph.D., were on hand inside the Stevens Flight Center on campus. Students, faculty, NOAA representatives, university staffers and members of the Salina community also attended.
“K-State Salina is excited that this partnership will prepare graduates with the skills necessary for this type of national service,” Starkey said. “By participating in this program, students will receive specialized training and education during their undergraduate experience that will allow them to transition directly into their NOAA career upon graduation.”
She added the Aerospace and Technology Campus’ vision is to be a global leader in airspace, develop talent and innovations, and search for sustainable solutions to “complex industry problems.”
K-State Salina's partnership with NOAA falls in line with the school’s goals by expanding curriculum and the talent pipeline that will come in and out of the campus.
Logan Ragsdale, a senior within the professional pilot program at K-State Salina, spoke about the connections he made with fellow classmates, professors, and within the aerospace industry while at the university, which are setting him up for a promising career.
“I think many would agree that if you have a goal, there’s (no better thing) than having a clear roadmap of how to achieve it,” Ragsdale said. “For an aspiring young aviator out there, this partnership with NOAA is just that – a roadmap to a good job.”
Moran was next to speak, beginning with the benefits that K-State Salina has offered since its inception.
“It matches a dream I have for our state, and that is to make sure that we create opportunities for those who love science and mathematics and engineering and research to have the opportunity to be educated here and to be employed in a workforce that has career opportunities as well,” he said.
Combining education with the all-important aerospace industry inside the state, Moran called it pleasing to see the campus progress in giving access to Kansans and others to pursue their dreams.
The Senator, as chairman of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies during the 116th Congress (2019-2021), found a way for Kansans to assist NOAA as they struggled through a pilot shortage.
He introduced his own bill, S.2910, on Nov. 20, 2019, which was then incorporated into the bill of Sen. Dan Sullivan, R-AK, S.2981 and signed into law by former President Donald Trump in Dec. 2020.
“What we’ve come here to celebrate today is the opportunity to combine an asset in K-State Salina and NOAA, to make things better for both NOAA and Kansas State’s faculty and students,” Moran added.
Students will be able to begin supporting NOAA flight operations once they complete the new program and subsequent basic officer training at the NOAA Corps Officer Training Center in New London, Connecticut.
“We look forward to working with the university to build our capacity to conduct science in the sky in service to the nation,” said Nancy Hann, who serves as the deputy director of the NOAA Corps and the NOAA Office of Marine and Aviation Operations.
The two entities will issue a call for applications once the new program is fully developed. Additionally, the NOAA Corps currently accepts applications from anyone who meets their eligibility requirements and is prepared to serve.