MVCC launches small unmanned-aerial systems degree program

MVCC Drone sUAS degree announcement (MVCC)

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[Editor’s Note: The program was approved by the New York State Education Department on May 20th.]

UTICA, N.Y. — Mohawk Valley Community College (MVCC) has added a new degree program focused on small unmanned-aerial systems (sUAS), or drones.

The school is offering the associate of applied science degree at its Utica campus beginning this fall.

The New York State Education Department approved the degree program on May 20, MVCC said in a news release issued Monday.

The curriculum offers students the chance to work as pilots, operators, and/or mission-team members of sUAS. It will also provide students to learn the operational and safety environments of the national airspace system.

Upon completion of this degree, graduates can pursue employment in “multiple” career fields, including real estate, agriculture, forestry and environmental research, photography and videography, law enforcement (search and rescue), disaster assessment, and geographic information systems.

MVCC’s sUAS program will have “flexible” schedules, including day and night classes, online and classroom instruction, hands-on labs, and field experience.

The commercial potential for drones has “only just begun to come into focus,” MVCC contends. The school cites data from the Arlington, Virginia–based Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International which indicates the industry is expected to generate an additional 100,000 jobs and $82.1 billion in economic impact in the next decade.

The degree-program curriculum will have students learning to design and build sUAS, along with learning mission planning and operations, flight skills, and programming.

The instruction will also emphasize ethics, along with Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) rules and regulations, MVCC said.

Coursework will explore modeling and fabrication using MVCC’s FABLab, drafting and design using AutoCAD, as well as electronics, mechanics, and software programming, the school added.

MVCC is launching this sUAS degree as it secures an FAA section 333 exemption to fly drones over educational institutions.

Under this exemption, MVCC faculty and staff will be able to fly drones for the purposes of conducting aerial photography, videography, inspections, surveying, closed set, motion-picture filming, and search and rescue operations.


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