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MVCC Launches New sUAS Degree Program

Monday, June 27, 2016

Source: Mohawk Valley Community College

Mohawk Valley Community College is ready to take flight with the addition of its newest degree program, small Unmanned Aerial Systems (sUAS).

This Associate of Applied Science (AAS) degree — approved on May 20 by the New York State Education Department (NYSED) — will be offered beginning in the fall 2016 semester on MVCC’s Utica Campus. The curriculum offers students the opportunity to work as pilots, operators, and/or mission team members of sUAS while fully understanding the operational and safety environments of the National Airspace System.

Upon completion of this degree, graduates will have multiple career opportunities in the fields of real estate, agriculture, forestry and environmental research, photography and videography, law enforcement (search and rescue), disaster assessment, geographic information systems, and much more. The commercial potential for sUAS — more commonly known as drones — has only just begun to come into focus. According to the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International, the industry is expected to generate an additional 100,000 jobs and $82.1 billion in economic impact in the next decade.

MVCC’s sUAS degree program is designed to equip students with the education and training to work and think critically in this lucrative and rapidly developing field. The sUAS program will feature flexible schedules — including day and night classes, online and classroom instruction, hands-on labs, and field experience.

The interdisciplinary curriculum teaches students to design and build sUAS, as well as mission planning and operations, flight skills, and programming. Ethics, as well as Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) rules and regulations, will be emphasized. Coursework will explore modeling and fabrication using MVCC’s FABLab, drafting and design using AutoCAD, electronics, mechanics, and software programming.

Students will hone their operation and flight skills on cutting-edge professional equipment in MVCC’s state-of-the-art flight simulator lab.

The launch of this sUAS degree falls in line with MVCC receiving an FAA Section 333 Exemption to fly sUAS over educational institutions. Under this exemption, MVCC faculty and staff will be able to fly sUAS for the purposes of conducting aerial photography, videography, inspections, surveying, closed-set motion picture filming, and search and rescue operations. With this authorization, MVCC faculty and students will be able to greatly enhance their research and studies in a wide range of courses and activities.

The Section 333 Exemption process provides operators who wish to pursue safe and legal entry into the National Airspace System a competitive advantage in the sUAS marketplace, thus discouraging illegal operations and improving safety.

Just this week, the Obama Administration provided the first national, uniform guidelines for non-recreational operation of sUAS lighter than 55 pounds. Under the rule, sUAS flights will be permitted for commercial, scientific, public safety and educational purposes, pursuant to a set of operational and safety requirements. The new rule will allow unmanned aircraft weighing less than 55 pounds to fly as high as 400 feet and as fast as 100 mph during the day. In the evening, only drones with anti-collision lights will be allowed to operate. The complete details of this announcement can be found on the FAA website at www.faa.gov.

MVCC sUAS program

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