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UAV degrees are hot ticket

Feb. 12, 2014 - 04:19PM   |  
Derek Timmons
A flight instructor at the University of North Dakota watches aviation students operate a Corsair simulator as part of their unmanned aircraft training in Grand Forks, N.D. (Dave Kolpack/The Associated Press)
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The Federal Aviation Administration estimates that as many as 7,500 commercial unmanned aerial vehicles could be flying in national airspace within a few years, but colleges aren’t waiting for the go-ahead to ready students for employment in the industry.

Alaska has been chosen as a test site for the integration of drones into U.S. airspace, opening up more opportunities for research at the University of Alaska, and two Ohio schools — Sinclair Community College and Kent State University — are training students for jobs using the technology.

“Our job is to be sure we are preparing the workforce to meet the jobs that are coming,” said Deb Norris, vice president of workforce development and corporate services at Sinclair Community College in Dayton, Ohio.

Concerns over privacy and security issues still pose some potential hurdles regarding drones, but Ohio schools expect to see even more educational opportunities going forward. “There are all kinds of opportunities with this technology,” said John Duncan, an assistant professor of aeronautics at Kent State.

The Ohio Board of Regents says Sinclair and Kent State are the only Ohio schools known to have formal degrees or certificate programs in unmanned aerial systems.

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