Top 10 UAS college list unveiled

By Emily Aasand | October 28, 2014

Development Counsellors International released a list of the top 10 universities offering degrees in unmanned aerial systems (UAS). The list, not created in any specific order, was created based on the firm’s research and knowledge of universities that offer UAS degrees.

Texas A&M-Corpus Christi landed in the top 10 for its UAS emphasis in mechanical engineering, computer science, and geospatial information science and surveying engineering programs.

“We’re excited to have made this national list that highlights our expertise in the field of UAS,” said University President Flavius Killebrew. “Not only is our specialty beneficial to our students pursuing this research and training, but it will provide a significant economic boost and create thousands of jobs in Texas.”

Corpus Christi became one of the six test sites for UAS research and development with extensive airspace authorized by the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration for UAS operations. According to the university, in its mechanical engineering, computer science, and geospatial information science and surveying engineering programs, Texas A&M-Corpus Christi has an established UAS research program that covers aircraft design and practical applications. The university had been focusing on how to incorporate UAS into marine environments using an RS-16 unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) and other UAVs such as eBee and rotorcraft.

Other universities who made the list include Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University and the University of North Dakota. Embry-Riddle is a technical college that offers a UAS science degree at its Daytona Beach, Florida location. Its program prepares students to seek employment as operators, sensor operators and operations administrators of UAS.

The University of North Dakota’s John Odegard School of Aerospace Sciences was the first to offer an undergraduate degree program in UAS operations. Its program has grown from 15 students during its first year to more than 140 students. According to the school, along with courses, students are required to obtain a commercial pilot certificate with instrument and multiengine ratings.

The U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory is providing $5.48 million in funding to UND to incorporate the Predator Mission Aircrew Training System, a state-of-the-art UAS simulator. UND has also set up the first research compliance committee, a review board to address the social issues raised by UAS.  

Oklahoma State University was the first four-year university to offer graduate-level degrees specific to unmanned aerial systems engineering. The state has long served as a test center for military technologies, including unmanned systems, through the school’s university multispectral lab.

The list rounded out with Indiana State University, Kansas State University Salina, University of Cincinnati, University of Nevada Reno, North Dakota State University and Unmanned Vehicle University—an online technical institution based in Phoenix.