After last year’s hiatus, the popular Kent State Aeronautics and Engineering Expo is returning to the Kent State Airport in Stow on Sept. 7 with airplane rides, robot competitions, flight simulators and, new this year, a tour of the recently completed FedEx Aeronautics Academic Center.

The annual event has been a summer favorite in Stow for over 20 years, but the event was canceled last year as construction on the new building began last June. The FedEx building, named in honor of the company’s $6.5 million donation, is now open, and students were already meeting with flight instructors and using the flight simulators.

Much of the building is already open to the public, as the Kent property is a public airport, but during the Expo on Sept. 7, there will be tours of the entire building, as well as public use of the four Alsim flight simulators.

"We want people to know that this resource is here not only for the university, but for the community. It’s growth for the program, and just the excitement of getting the new building, the simulators, the new facility, the enrollment in our college has gone up 40 percent this year," said Robert Kraus, Ph.D., associate dean of flight and operations for College of Aeronautics and Engineering.

The new 17,800-square-foot building is part of Phase 1 of the university’s $1 billion Kent Campus Gateway Master Plan, and meets the needs of both the school of aeronautics and the industry. According to Boeing, there will be a need for more than 800,000 new pilots in the next 20 years.

"Aesthetically, our program far surpassed the visual of the airport. Our hangar is impressive, but when people would come and tour, that was the biggest hang-up. Parents and students would be apprehensive. It’s been a long time coming, not only for prospective students and current students, but also our alums because they’ve invested back into our programs and they’re really happy to see the enhancements of our building," said Jessica Tremayne-Farkas, director of marketing communications and PR for the college.

The new building, which visitors can tour on Sept. 7, includes a public reception lobby where pilots can fly in and purchase gas, pilot shop, Skyquest weather briefing room, line office, dispatch office, research room, briefing rooms, classrooms and simulation rooms.

As in previous years, Tom Stephan, "the Voice of Stow," will serve as the announcer. There will also be airplane rides, airplane displays, student group displays, robotics displays, a First Aid tent staffed by the Kent State College of Nursing that will also offer blood pressure screenings, metal casting demonstrations, pet food and supplies collections, COSI kiosks and a basket raffle from the Stow-Munroe Falls Chamber of Commerce.

"The Aeronautics Expo has such good community participation and it makes for a great opportunity for the Chamber to take some of their items and get them out in front of everyone," said Chamber executive director Doris Stewart. 

This year’s speakers are Major Kyle Busch, a pilot with the United State Marine Corps who has flown President Donald Trump and President Barack Obama; and Susan Weisenbach Johnson and Sarah Deal, who will offer a panel on women breaking barriers in the industry. Bill Schloman and Barbara Schloman will also be at the expo signing copies of their recent Kent Press book "A Century of Flight at Paton Field: The Story of Kent State University’s Airport and Flight Education." The keynote speaker is yet to be announced, and all speakers will be in the FedEx building. 

This year’s event will be held 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sept. 7 at the airport located at 4020 Kent Road in Stow. Entry cost is $5 for adults; $3 for high school and college students; $3 for senior citizens and veterans; and free for children 12 and under. Entry is also free to Stow residents living on Kauffman Road, Baird Road and Hile Road. Those residents should bring an ID that includes their address.

Parking is at Kimpton Middle School with charter service. There will be no on-site parking. 

For tickets and more information, visit https://www.kent.edu/cae/event/aeronautics-engineering-expo-2019.

Reporter Krista S. Kano can be reached at 330-541-9416, kkano@recordpub.com or on Twitter @KristaKanoRCedu.