Space-X success, basement teaching and other KYSU stories

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FRANKFORT, Ky. (WTVQ/KYSU) A Kentucky State University alumnus recently received a promotion at a company that goes out-of-this world.

Christopher Alan Stanley used tools he learned at Kentucky State and applied for work in the Commonwealth to land a job at SpaceX and recently earn a promotion.

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“I started working at SpaceX in 2018 as a Linux systems engineer focusing on security,” Stanley said. “From there I quickly transitioned to senior information security engineer and, most recently, to leading the information security engineering team.”

Stanley said he was involved in helping develop and implement the Frankfort Public art website with the help of Joanna Hay during his time on the Hill.

“This project holds a special place in my heart because of the two national art awards this work received,” Stanley said. “Being able to work closely with the community helped give me the perspective I needed on the importance of appreciating local culture and art.”



After graduation, Stanley started a company as a consultant with Baptist Health Hospital and also the Commonwealth of Kentucky.

“I was recognized by both the chief information officer of the Commonwealth Office of Technology and Governor Matt Bevin for my help at the state-level,” Stanley said.

Now at SpaceX, Stanley said there is no shortage of amazing things going on at the company.

“From Starship, which represents a fully reusable transportation system designed to carry both crew and cargo to Earth orbit, the Moon, Mars, and beyond; to Starlink that will provide high-speed internet to the entire planet,” Stanley said. “Let’s also not forget about Dragon, which is a free-flying spacecraft designed to deliver both cargo and people to orbiting destinations. It is the only spacecraft currently flying that is capable of returning significant amounts of cargo to Earth. Currently Dragon carries cargo to space, but it was designed from the beginning to carry humans. Dragon is the first American spacecraft in history to autonomously dock with the International Space Station.”

The jaw-dropping projects aren’t the most exciting part of working at SpaceX, however, Stanley said.

“The most exciting part of working at SpaceX is being surrounded by some of the most brilliant and highly-skilled individuals on this planet, while helping to secure the future of humanity and eventually life on other planets,” Stanley said. “I watch every single launch knowing that I played a small part in making that possible. What is especially amazing is seeing the Falcon 9 booster autonomously lands itself back on Earth after delivering its payload to space.”

Stanley said the biggest change in himself from his days on campus to now is self-awareness.

“I meditate often,” Stanley said. “I reflect on who I am as a person, how my interactions with people affect change, what my flaws are, what my strengths are, how to be better. Understanding yourself helps you to use your strengths to be successful. Everyone has strengths.”

Stanley said he would encourage current and future Thorobreds to not give up on their dreams.

“Never give up on your dreams, but realize that in order for them to come true you have to put in the work,” Stanley said. “The amount of work is larger and harder the bigger the dream. It is up to you to set your own destiny, stop waiting for others to do it for you.”

Finally, Stanley encourages Thorobreds to not be afraid to ask for help.

“It takes more than one person to launch a rocket into space,” Stanley said. “Help your peers, challenge each other to be better. If humanity is going to be successful, we need to learn to work together.”

PROF TURNS BASEMENT INTO TEACHING STUDIO

FRANKFORT, Ky. (WTVQ/KYSU) – As Kentucky State University transitions to online learning during the global pandemic, faculty have made preparations to help Thorobreds continue to strive for academic excellence.

Dr. Jens Hannemann, associate professor for computer science, transformed his basement into a production student to better help his students during this unprecedented time.

“Modern mobile phones are ridiculously good video cameras for this particular purpose,” Hannemann said. “All I had to do was to move everything to my basement and set it up. My wife teaches in the electrical and computer engineering department at UK and we share a home office, so someone had to move out so we could work in parallel on content.”

Hannemann said he already had the infrastructure in place to teach online.

“One of my tasks arriving at Kentucky State  was to design and implement a dual-credit online course for the introduction to programming and computer science,” Hannemann said. “I took the opportunity to learn how to post some of that content to a Youtube channel, as I’ll use the same platform to host content relevant to all our computer science students.”

Hannemann said faculty in computer science are lucky since so much content already is virtual and remote and distributed teams are quite common in the industry.

“Since we prepare our students for that, at least the upperclassmen already have much of the skills and mindset for remote work in place,” Hannemann said. “It’s much harder for my colleagues who teach freshmen and sophomore classes.”

Hannemann said one challenge of moving all learning online has been organizing the content so students don’t get lost. Another challenge, he said, is keeping students engaged.

“The content creation is my comfort zone, but my greatest challenge will be to keep my students engaged,” Hannemann said. “I’m not a big fan of giving quizzes and would rather have my students write code and learn by trial and error, but without my presence in the classroom to help them out this will be pretty difficult for them. Quasi-synchronous communication via Slack helps, but only a subset of students have taken advantage of that in the past.”

Hannemann said it’s been a stressful time full of meetings, but the support faculty have given to each other during the preparation sessions has been a great help.

“I really like how all my colleagues are pulling together to help each other and the students during this challenging time,” Hannemann said.

KYSU APPROVED FOR DISTANCE LEARNING

FRANKFORT, Ky. (WTVQ/KYSU) – Kentucky State University received written confirmation of its waiver request from its accrediting body to offer instruction via distance education for the remainder of the academic year.  The campus announced online instruction through April 13, 2020 and will continue to monitor the COVID-19 health emergency and adjust accordingly.

The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges granted Kentucky State University a waiver to offer instruction via distance learning as a result of a request to do so because of the current global pandemic.  The timely waiver reflects the managerial diligence of the administration and the unified actions of the Faculty Senate and Academic Affairs.

“This rapid response is exceptional news,” said President M. Christopher Brown II as he shared the SACSCOC’s approval for Kentucky State to offer 50 percent or more of any approved program by distance education. “The institution is grateful to SACSCOC and for the ability to implement an interactive and easy-to-navigate digital platform, engaging our students and faculty in a collaborative online learning experience.”

Should the pandemic’s consequences extend past the academic year, another waiver would be necessary to continue distance education.