Unmanned Aircraft Systems offer boundless partnership opportunities

February 25, 2014

130327 Draganflyer X6_0103At the January 30 SBHE meeting, Dr. Bruce Smith, Dean of the John D. Odegard School of Aerospace Sciences at the University of North Dakota (UND) in Grand Forks, and Dr. Kelly Rusch, Vice President for Research and Creative Activity at North Dakota State University (NDSU) in Fargo, made a presentation to the Board regarding Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) in light of the recent designation by the Federal Aviation Administration.

According to Dr. Smith, the UND Unmanned Aircraft Systems Center of Excellence (UAS COE) started within the Odegard School in 2005 with a focus on education, training and research. The UAS COE has grown rapidly leveraging funding from state, Federal and industry sources.

The Odegard School was the first college in the United States to offer a bachelor’s degree in UAS and form a Research Compliance Committee to address privacy issues.

Most recently, North Dakota obtained the FAA’s designation as one of six National Test Airspace Sites to operate, test and certify UASs with the ultimate goal to safely integrate UASs into the National Airspace.

“We were probably the most cohesive team that competed [for the designation]” said Dr. Rusch.

Collaborations regarding UAS have already spread to NDSU and Lake Region State College (LRSC) in Devils Lake, with potential collaborations possible across the university system. NDSU, in particular, is playing a strong role in research and development regarding precision agriculture, technology to improve performance and safety (such as anti-icing coating), big data and uses with transportation, infrastructure and logistics.

LRSC has also incorporated UAS into its Law Enforcement Training program and offers training in conjunction with UND for UAS pilots, sensor operators and technicians.

Pictured: Alan Frazier (right), University of North Dakota assistant professor of aviation, demonstrates a camera-equipped UAS vehicle to Barry Milavetz, associate vice president for research, and Grand Forks Sheriff Bob Rost.