Full-Day Tour at a UAS Training Facility

By Luke Geiver | September 25, 2014

Northland Community and Technical College offers the nation’s first unmanned aerial system maintenance program in the country. Anyone can see that from a quick browse of the Minnesota-based school’s website. Spend a day with the team at Northland’s Aerospace program, and it is easy to see that the UAS offerings are far greater than any text on a website can convey.

Our team visited the Thief River Falls, Minnesota training facility earlier this week. We spent the first hour sitting at a round table with Curtis Zeller and John Beck, both leaders of the program and soon-to-be big-time names in the UAS world. Following our morning talks—the story of the team, the school and the impact both will and already have had on the UAS industry is soon to come—we toured several areas of the training grounds.

The tour included a look at the massive airplane hanger where students at the school work on unmanned aerial vehicles, a stop at a sUAV workshop where students learn the electrical components and structures related to quadcopters, an explanation and in-person stay inside a multi-screen conference center that looks like something out of a futuristic movie, and, a few in-session UAS classes. In a special work room, a few students also showed us the work they have done and are completing with aerial imagery interpretation.

Without divulging too much of the future feature story, it is worth noting now that the story from the facility is not about what you may expect. We will include the role the program leaders have had not only in advancing the UAS industry, but also the role the program leaders have played in shaping a curriculum and culture that could be translated to other schools across the country that are interested in UAS.