Meteorology Professor Ken Parsons is the Daytona Beach Campus faculty delegate for the Board of Trustees. He is a member of the Academic Committee and the Facilities and Capital Planning Committee.
Following a career as a professional meteorologist, Ken Parsons re-entered the job market as an academic with Embry-Riddle in 2001.
The university gained tremendous weather experience in their new hire. Parsons had spent more than 20 years as a meteorologist, both in the military and in private industry. While on active duty with the U.S. Air Force, he served in diverse assignments in the United States and overseas.
In Korea, he was the staff weather officer to the U.S. Army’s Second Infantry Division. In Europe, he was the U.S. Air Force representative to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and Allied Command Europe weather communications working groups. He finished his Air Force career as chief of the 21st Air Force Weather Support Unit at McGuire Air Force Base, New Jersey. After his military career, he worked as a meteorologist with a leading environmental engineering and consulting firm.
More Students, More Buildings, More Interaction
In the years since Parsons arrived at the Prescott Campus in Arizona, he has seen considerable growth. “When I first arrived, there were 1,500 or 1,600 students, and 2,000 seemed like an unattainable goal,” he reported. “Now we’re pushing 2,500!”
The number of new buildings has been growing too, and Parsons is especially excited about the new Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) building. “When I became the faculty delegate to the Board of Trustees, I got the conversation started about the STEM Education Center,” he said. “I like to think I’ve had some hand in getting that off the ground.”
This is a modest statement for someone who helped launch the state-of-the-art STEM Center, which will open in the fall of 2017. It houses space, robotics and advanced computing and simulation labs; an engineering design studio; and a planetarium where real-time celestial phenomena sourced from the university’s top-rated astronomical observatory are displayed.
Parsons, who has also served as Speaker of the Faculty, is deeply involved in the university’s growth, and no more so than in the growth of its students. He is passionate about being able to interact with, advise and inspire them. His involvement with students goes beyond teaching a range of meteorology classes, such as Weather for Aircrews and Applied Synoptic Meteorology.
He has mentored several McNair Program Scholars and served as the director of the Honors Program at the Prescott Campus from 2012 to 2014 and still serves as a member of the Honors Program Advisory Board. He also volunteers as a faculty assistant to the women’s volleyball team. “I’ve had the opportunity to travel with them,” he said. “Just being there, being a support for them is really rewarding.”
Spotlight on Technology
Looking to the future, Parsons believes Embry-Riddle’s best opportunity lies in the university’s emphasis on technology. This emphasis can be seen in the College of Engineering, with technology interwoven throughout its departments, such as the curriculum track in robotics and the newly launched simulation science, games and animation program.
“The College of Security and Intelligence has computer security/cyber security programs, and the College of Aviation has the unmanned aerial systems program. All are growing by leaps and bounds and employing the very latest technology,” he said.