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Tysen Pina Selected to Lead K-State Salina’s Aviation Program as Department Head


By K-State News


SALINA, Kan. — In its mission to become a leading institution for aerospace and technology talent development, Kansas State University Salina has appointed Tysen Pina as the new department head of aviation.

As the department head, Pina will oversee the aviation program, focusing on expanding industry-relevant academic offerings, strengthening alumni and industry partnerships, enhancing safety management and strategically positioning the program for future success.

Having retired from the U.S. Air Force, Pina brings more than 21 years of aviation experience. His expertise spans program management, process improvement, strategic planning, aviation training and leadership. Pina plans to leverage K-State Salina’s rich aviation history of excellence and build upon the foundation that has already been laid over the past 33 years under the Kansas State University system and previously, with the campus leading in aviation training since the 1960s.

“My heart is in all things aviation, building organizations and pouring into people and making them better every day,” said Pina. “I knew that once my time in the Air Force was over, I knew I wanted to be in aviation. When I first met the K-State Salina faculty, their connection and excitement really shone through. This campus and the spirit that it has really motivated me.”

Additionally, as the aviation industry continues to see major transitions in its hiring practices, needs and criteria, K-State Salina is committing itself to supporting all learners through educational offerings that will set its students up to impact the industry.

“We are committed to providing quality education to all learners – whether they are looking for a certificate or associate, bachelor’s or a master’s degree,” said K-State Salina CEO and dean Alysia Starkey. “With Tysen’s focus on safety, excellence and mentorship, K-State Salina graduates will continue to be highly sought-after professionals, ready to excel in the ever-changing industry regardless of their career entry point.”

Pina holds a bachelor’s degree in social sciences from the U.S. Air Force Academy and a master’s degree in business organization and leadership from the University of Kansas.

His distinguished Air Force career includes roles such as commander for the 966th Airborne Air Control Squadron with E-3G AWACS aircraft; director of operations for 16th Airborne Command and Control Squadron with E-8C JSTARS aircraft, wing inspector general with the 116th Air Control Wing; regional engagement strategist for Air Force Central Command in Qatar; and assistant director of operations for the 422nd Test and Evaluation Squadron at Nellis Air Force Base.

Pina has flown over 100 combat missions. After having moved more than 12 times for his career, he is ecstatic to be able to call Salina home for a long time.