LAWRENCE —The Dole Institute of Politics at the University of Kansas will launch the new Innovations Series this spring with the inaugural program being a two-part event on unmanned aerial vehicles, otherwise known as drones. The Innovations Series will be an ongoing series at the Dole Institute that investigates the crossroads among science, technology and public policy.
The first program in the 2014 Innovations Series: Drones is titled “Unmanned Drones: Soldiers without Uniforms” and takes place at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, March 6. The second program is titled “Branching Out: Exploring New Uses for Drones” and will take place at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, March 11. Both programs will take place at the Dole Institute of Politics.
“In the midst of controversy on the issue of unmanned aerial vehicles, I believe that we’ve brought together a truly remarkable group of individuals from multiple sides that will provide depth of information on issues ranging from ethics to entrepreneurship,” said Dole Institute director Bill Lacy. “We are excited to see where the Innovations Series will go from this already incredible launching point.”
Despite their more popular association with military procedures, drones have also proven effective in a wide range of extra-military affairs. The series’ programs will create a context for drones from their military beginnings and then move into a discussion on the applications of drones in everything from global security to disaster relief, search and rescue, environmental sciences, sports, film and agriculture. Additionally, issues of ethics, economics, public opinion and public policy will figure prominently in each program.
The series opener will feature Retired Naval Admiral Timothy Beard and Scott Winship, both currently of global security company Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems, a provider of manned and unmanned aircraft systems. Beard and Winship will discuss the technological development, military history, future capabilities and ethics of drones. Winship is vice president of advanced air warfare development at Northrop Grumman. He has also worked for Lockheed Martin. Beard began at Northrop Grumman after a 34-year naval aviator career. Beard is responsible for advanced concept programs, among other projects. Both Winship and Beard have extensive experience designing, developing and implementing aviation solutions for clients, including the U.S. Armed Forces.
The second program in this spring’s series will feature Professor Kurt Barnhart, director for the Applied Aviation Research Center of Kansas State University; Shawn Keshmiri, assistant professor of aerospace engineering, and Bill Donovan of Pulse Aerospace. Barnhart is head of the aviation department at K-State and has experience with drones assisting homeland security responses to natural and man-made disasters. He has also worked with drone applications in agriculture. Keshmiri has led the guidance, navigation control tasks for unmanned aerial system platforms for environmental remote sensing of ice sheets in Antarctica. Keshmiri and his students have conducted more than 110 successful autonomous flights in Antarctica, Greenland and the United States. Donovan is the president and CEO of Pulse Aerospace, a Kansas-based company focused on the development of advanced unmanned helicopter systems. He has a master’s degree in aerospace engineering and has spent the past 10 years developing, fielding and distributing unmanned aircraft systems.
The 2014 Innovations Series is co-sponsored by the KU’s School of Engineering, Engineers without Borders and Engineering Student Council.