Embry-Rid­dle Aero­nau­ti­cal Uni­ver­si­ty from Day­tona Beach, Flori­da has been award­ed a con­tract to assist in the devel­op­ment of cur­ricu­lum and online train­ing for small Uncrewed Aer­i­al Sys­tems (sUAS) oper­a­tors for the U.S. Depart­ment of State’s Bureau of Inter­na­tion­al Nar­cotics and Law Enforce­ment Affairs, Office of Avi­a­tion, reports a press release.

Found­ed in 1926, Embry–Riddle is a pri­vate uni­ver­si­ty and today spe­cialis­es in avi­a­tion and aero­space pro­grams. Apart from Day­tona, its oth­er cam­pus is locat­ed in Prescott, Ari­zona.

Dr. Scott Burgess, Asso­ciate Pro­fes­sor of Avi­a­tion and prin­ci­pal researcher on the project, com­ment­ed, “The gov­ern­ment has train­ing stan­dards and robust admin­is­tra­tive poli­cies and pro­ce­dures already in place glob­al­ly for every­thing that is crewed, but noth­ing that is uncrewed.”

He con­tin­ued, “The intent is to glob­al­ly stan­dard­ise sUAS train­ing and cer­ti­fi­ca­tion. Our job is to offer our exist­ing sUAS pro­fes­sion­al edu­ca­tion, thus enabling their crews to per­form to a set stan­dard, as well as assist in set­ting con­di­tions that pro­vide a lev­el of knowl­edge, skills and abil­i­ties equiv­a­lent or sur­pass­ing estab­lished inter­na­tion­al sUAS crew stan­dards.”

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Embry-Rid­dle is an estab­lished leader in uncrewed sys­tems appli­ca­tion and safe­ty becom­ing the first aca­d­e­m­ic insti­tu­tion in the world to receive the Trust­ed Oper­a­tor Cer­ti­fi­ca­tion from the Asso­ci­a­tion for Unmanned Vehi­cle Sys­tems Inter­na­tion­al (AUVSI) in 2018. The Uni­ver­si­ty is to offer its exper­tise in design­ing and admin­is­ter­ing a stan­dard­ised train­ing pro­gram that can poten­tial­ly be used by gov­ern­ment employ­ees, law enforce­ment enti­ties and civ­il avi­a­tion author­i­ties all around the world. 

Burgess added, “The World­wide Cam­pus Depart­ment of Flight has worked hard dur­ing the past six years to raise-the-bar for UAS oper­a­tional inte­gra­tion, train­ing and stan­dard­i­s­a­tion into var­i­ous com­mer­cial and gov­ern­men­tal dis­ci­plines and why the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment came to us. They have been very open to our ideas.”

The final aim is to design course­ware in con­junc­tion with the Office of Avi­a­tion to train stu­dents, lead­ing to an indus­try cer­ti­fi­ca­tion in sUAS.

Dr. Scott Burgess

Dr. John R. Watret, FRAeS, chan­cel­lor of Embry-Riddle’s World­wide Cam­pus, remarked, “As lead­ers in UAS edu­ca­tion pro­grams, we are extreme­ly well equipped to sup­port these oper­a­tors and ensure they receive the high­est lev­el of train­ing.”

In 2021, Embry-Rid­dle was giv­en a first-of-its-kind waiv­er to begin train­ing aspir­ing drone pilots remote­ly through online video stream­ing plat­forms. Uni­ver­si­ty researchers also con­tin­ue to lever­age uncrewed sys­tems in cre­ative ways to solve real-world prob­lems. Exam­ples include employ­ing drones to accu­rate­ly pre­dict storm devel­op­ments and even map ancient cities.

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(Top image: Embry Rid­dle Uni­ver­si­ty)