It’s no surprise that drone career options are taking off. The Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International estimates the burgeoning UAV tech sector may create 100,000 jobs and $82 billion in economic benefit by 2025.
While the stats are optimistic, the question remains for high school graduates: “How Do I Get Quality Drone Training?” For a growing number of colleges and universities the answer lies in dedicated programs focused on UAV technology.
Most recently, Green River College in Auburn, Wash. announced the launch of a drone associates degree program.
“We can educate them in how to operate a drone — how to build one, how to repair them if they need to,” program director George Comollo told KOMO.
The classes are scheduled to begin in April in order to combat the typical rainy weather seasons of the Northwest.
For veteran Colin Nesbitt, the UAV program is a great way to continue the training he received as a drone pilot in Iraq. He’s optimistic about the future of such a program.
“Just imagine a kid coming out of high school … and getting the training,” he said. “Maybe then go to work for Amazon or an up-and-coming company and make a decent living.”
Drone programs are certainly nothing new to academia – a Bachelor of Science program in unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) was first offered at Kansas State University—Salina, in 2008, funded as part of a relief package for future disaster prevention. A UAS major was created at the University of North Dakota in 2009, and similar programs have since spread from the Midwest to across America, and the world.
Embry–Riddle Aeronautical University in Florida developed a program in 2011, and the University of Alaska Fairbanks started offering a minor in UAS in the fall of 2014.
Last year, the University of Louisiana at Monroe became one of the first institutions to offer a drone concentration within its aviation department.
Internationally, the University of Southern Denmark recently launched a two-year Master’s of Science/Engineering program in drone technology. Dubbed “the first of its kind in Europe,” the program is expected to launch in September and SDU officials say it will produce engineers who will “develop technology for the drones’ budding industry adventure.”
However, many universities see the Drone Revolution as a threat rather than an opportunity. In September, the University of Arkansas banned all unmanned aircraft systems – including model aircraft – over university property without prior written approval.
The University of North Carolina recently announced a similar restriction after a journalism professor asked permission to fly a drone to capture aerial footage for his department and was subsequently denied. Given that the most publicized requests seem to be shot down, some are questioning where the line falls between authorization requirements and a de facto ban.
Jason is a longstanding contributor to DroneLife with an avid interest in all things tech. He focuses on anti-drone technologies and the public safety sector; police, fire, and search and rescue.
Beginning his career as a journalist in 1996, Jason has since written and edited thousands of engaging news articles, blog posts, press releases and online content.
Subscribe to DroneLife here.