Preparing the UAV operator base

By UAS Magazine Staff | January 12, 2015

Florida State University believes the demand for unmanned aircraft vehicle (UAV) operators is growing. The school has announced a program that will prepare students to pilot UAVs in several applications. In the spring, FSU will offer unmanned aircraftl systems (UAS) courses in its Emergency Management and Homeland Security programs under a new program, Application of Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems.

“Our discussion with state and local emergency managers show intense interest in what drones can do for the field of emergency management, particularly emergency response, recovery and mitigation,” David Merrick, deputy director of the EMHS program at FSU, said. “These versatile systems can capture still and video imagery of disaster impacts and provide critical, near-real-time assessments for a fraction of the cost of manned aircraft.”

The program, a first for any educational institution in Florida, will help students learn the basics of UAV operations set in wildfire monitoring settings, identifying hot spots during urban fire incidents, monitoring agricultural conditions and locating or communicating with individuals stranded in disaster situations. The EMHS program has already used UAVs during two disaster situation projects, according to the school.

The program’s current faculty includes three UAV manufacturer-certified pilots. The school is looking to adapt existing indoor building space for uninhibited flying and practice space.

“There’s much in the way of understanding the technology and its application, not to mention the policy issues involved with the use of UAS that students need to learn before they get their craft up in the air,” Merrick said. “By the end of this program, these students will have unique experience in every aspect of UAS deployment, remote sensing applications and putting UAS imagery to work in a wide range of specializations—and knowing how to fly them.”