SALINA — State and national officials visited the K-State Polytechnic Campus on Thursday evening to discuss how Kansas is helping shape the future of Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS), commonly known as drones.

President Donald Trump signed a presidential memo Oct. 25, 2017, directing federal officials to create a pilot program to tackle challenges related to integrating drones into the national airspace and to pursue the economic benefits of expanding the industry.

In May, the United States Department of Transportation selected the Kansas Department of Transportation to be one of 10 state, local and tribal governments to participate in the UAS Integration Pilot Program (IPP).

Bob Brock, director of aviation for the Kansas Department of Transportation, said the program puts Kansas on the cutting edge of history.

"Having the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) come to you to say, 'Work with us to make policy for aviation and protect the national airspace system' is absolutely history making and an extraordinary partnership," he said.

KDOT is partnering on the IPP program with Kansas State University, Wichita State University, the University of Kansas, the Kansas UAS Joint Task Force, and several companies, including Microsoft, Westar Energy and T-Mobile. Brock said drones have the potential to help people in a variety of ways.

"Our priorities for this pilot program are to lead the country in fielding new capabilities that use drones to either make money, save money, or save lives," he said. "At the end of the day, we are going to do all of that in Kansas."

Brock said the drone industry could become a significant source of economic development for Kansas. He encouraged anyone with feedback about the program to contact his office by emailing info@ippkansas.org or by completing a form online at ippkansas.org.

"None of this program will be done in secret," he said. "None of it will be done in any way that is not completely transparent. If you have a concern, bring it to us. It is just as important to know what scares you, or concerns you, as the complimentary things."

FAA Program Manager Dennis King and FAA Regional Administrator Joe Miniace also attended the event.