Salina, Kans. -- Today, economic development in Kansas took a huge step forward with the announcement of Colonel Robert Brock as the state's new director of unmanned aircraft systems (UAS). As chairman of the House Transportation and Public Safety Budget Committee, I worked with the Secretary of Transportation and our research universities to create this new state-level position. Now we have in place a talented and experienced director who can move the UAS industry forward in Kansas and continue to build on our nationally-recognized UAS programs.
Colonel Brock brings a depth of experience to this position that will allow him to hit the ground running. A Kansas native, he commanded the first Air Force UAS squadron for special operations. His unit, the 3rd Special Operations Squadron, was recognized as the model UAS organization in the Department of Defense. Colonel Brock understands the potential UAS has and he has the experience and talent to direct the growth of the industry in Kansas.
Kansas stands at the forefront of the growing UAS sector, and with today's announcement we are even better positioned to move to the next level. In addition to the UAS director position, we have initiated a new UAS research triangle between Kansas State Polytechnic University in Salina, and our research universities. The research triangle will allow our state to harness the resources of these three universities, including the nationally recognized UAS program at K-State Polytechnic, to compete for public and private sector research projects.
Nationally the UAS sector keeps growing. The UAS lab at K-State Polytechnic in Salina has been hard at work in developing UAS technology while educating and training students and commercial clients to take key roles in the UAS industry. During this year's legislative session, budget language I authored helps to set the agenda for Colonel Brock's first year on the job. It includes creating a five-year strategic plan for the UAS industry in Kansas, working with the schools in the research triangle to grow the industry, helping obtain grants to further UAS, and marketing Kansas nationally as a home for the UAS industry. In addition, Colonel Brock will be spending half his time in Salina, where he will be able to work directly with the UAS researchers at K-State Polytechnic on growing this vital segment of our economy.
The creation of the research triangle and the hiring of Colonel Brock are just the first steps in an ambitious plan to grow aviation jobs in Kansas. The next steps will lead to growth in research, engineering and manufacturing jobs in our state. The future for the UAS industry in Salina and Kansas is strong and we are well positioned to become a national and global leader in the industry.
Welcome home, Colonel Brock!
UAS Director Proviso (PDF)
Proviso language creating the UAS Research Triangle, establishing duties of the UAS Director, and creating a Salina office at K-State Polytechnic.