Sinclair has become the first community college in the country to join a federal research consortium on unmanned aerial systems (UAS), or drones.
That comes after the college in Dayton spent around $10 million over the last few years to invest in facilities, permits and new courses focused on development of UAS technologies and workforce training for those who want to go into the industry. In 2015, the school unveiled a new UAS test center at its downtown Dayton campus.
“It is one of the only structures of its kind in the United States,” says Deb Norris, who heads workforce development at Sinclair. She’s excited to see the school’s drone-related programs take off. “I think the applications are just endless.”
This federal partnership for drone research, known as the Alliance for System Safety of UAS through Research and Education or ASSURE, includes 22 schools and more than 100 private and governmental bodies. Norris says joining the partnership could mean funding for future projects, and Sinclair is the only community college involved. The Ohio State University and local company Woolpert, a surveying consultancy company, are also participating in the alliance.
The research conducted by this group will help the Federal Aviation Administration figure out how to regulate drones in the national airspace. Currently, anyone who desires to fly an unmanned vehicle for commercial purposes has to get a federal permit for the vehicle and the flight—more thorough draft regulations are still pending. Individual hobbyists are regulated under a different rule that simply requires owners to register and attach their registration number to each drone they fly.