KSU-Salina adds new UAS bachelor’s program

By Patrick C. Miller | July 02, 2015

Beginning next fall, Kansas State University at Salina will offer of a new bachelor's degree and minor in unmanned aerial systems (UAS)

The UAS program will combine UAS technology studies with coursework in computer science, electronic engineering and mechanical engineering to offer a Bachelor of Science degree in engineering technology with a UAS option.

According to the university, the new course of study complements the existing aeronautical technology bachelor's degree in UAS, which is centered on piloting and field operations. It concentrates on the design and implementation of unmanned systems.

KSU Salina is also adding a UAS minor with both a flight operations focus and a data acquisition and management focus. Doctoral-level faculty members are leading the program.

"This hybrid degree, which incorporates principles from both programs, is a practical addition to our academic offerings and an essential addition for the UAS industry," said Verna Fitzsimmons, KSU Salina's dean and CEO.

Students enrolling in the engineering technology with a UAS option degree won’t have flight rating requirements. Instead, they’ll study such UAS functions as software and data, sensors and actuators, camera systems and other payloads. Courses will focus on electronic circuits, communication systems, control systems, machine design, manufacturing technology, materials technology and fundamentals of UAS operations.

"When most people think of an unmanned system they usually envision the pilot, not the engineers who design, build and keep it operating properly," said Saeed Khan, KSU Salina engineering technology associate professor who leads the new program. "Previously, students would have to double major if they wanted to focus on the engineering side of unmanned systems, but this new program will give them an integrated education without added hours or costs."

The university has also created a UAS minor for students outside the program and from other universities who want to supplement their education. The minor has two areas of emphasis: the air vehicle operations focus and the data acquisition and management focus.

"The ability to offer a UAS minor as part of our curriculum increases the value of our program and, in the longer view, benefits the industry by providing better prepared candidates for employment," said Michael Most, UAS associate professor. "Students majoring in areas that include professional pilot, agriculture, biology, wildlife science, landscape architecture and even filmmaking can now experience how UAS technology can be utilized in their field of study. The unmanned industry is expanding and this minor will make students more marketable."


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