|UND launches first-of-its-kind major in unmanned aerial systems|
Starting this fall, the UND John D. Odegard School of Aerospace Sciences (Odegard School) Department of Aviation will offer a new major—the Bachelor of Science in Aeronautics degree with a major in unmanned aerial systems (UAS). The new major was approved by the North Dakota State Board of Higher Education in May.
This is the first UAS major of its kind in the country and is being offered to meet the increasing demand for qualified UAS pilots and sensor operators in this rapidly growing field, said Kenneth Polovitz, assistant dean of the Odegard School.
“We have already received tremendous interest in this new major from both currently enrolled aviation students and prospective students,” Polovitz said.
The major is built upon the department’s commercial aviation major and includes courses in unmanned aircraft systems, UAS support ground systems, communications and control, and sensor systems operations. Additionally, the major curriculum includes aviation safety, human factors, and crew resource management as they pertain to unmanned aircraft operations.
The program also will provide education that promotes the sensitivity of, and appreciation for, the complexities associated with the safe integration of unmanned aircraft into the current aviation environment. The program leverages both the school’s and the department’s capabilities developed over more than 40 years in crewed aviation while adding to them the lessons learned from the past five years of UAS research at UND.
“We want to educate professionals for the unmanned aircraft industry capable of developing and managing future programs,” said Ben Trapnell, associate professor and principal developer of the new major. “Work done with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) as well as the Department of Defense and numerous industry representatives has given us a strong picture of what the industry needs today, as well as a view of where it is heading.”
The degree likely will undergo changes as regulatory conditions warrant, Trapnell said.
“We feel that a collaborative effort will help the FAA develop standards for UAS pilot training and certification,” he said.
Billions of dollars are expected to be spent by the Department of Defense and other agencies in the next few years to field the number of pilots and systems needed to meet operational demands. Growth within the civilian industry is expected to keep pace as the issues of airspace integration are overcome, Trapnell said.
-- Juan Pedraza, Writer/Editor, University Relations, email@example.com, 777-6571