Troy University became the first university in Alabama to offer a program in unmanned aerial systems when the new minor launched this fall.
Colonel Al Allenback, USAF (retired), said, in a university press release, “This new minor is very timely, especially as Governor Bentley has just announced the formation of an Unmanned Aerial Systems Task Force.”
The minor consists of seven courses that cover the history of unmanned aerial systems, background on how the systems operate, design of the systems, applications of the systems and the legal and ethical aspects of the machines.
Allenback said that the rules of ethics are important because people who already operate the unmanned aircraft have to be careful about where they operate in the Federal airspace.
There are plans to include a course on piloting familiarization in the future, which will be a lab split between construction and actual UAS piloting.
The minor is 18 hours and all of the courses are taken online.
The price for the aerial minor classes are the same as regular online classes.
Allenback said that in Term 1 the program has covered a large span of students, ranging from military to students who are simply interested in unmanned aerial systems. He said this program will be a tremendous growth industry.
“The estimates are that over 100,000 jobs will be created over 10 years, and it will be an $82 billion industry in 2025,”said Allenback.
According to the press release, Allenback and a team of professors developed the minor over the last two years. This team represents physics, law enforcement and other unmanned aerial system operations.
Allenback said this technology covers a large field from commercial to private operation. He stated that the conflict with this is between commercial interests, like Amazon, which would use “drones”to bring packages to your door, and the Federal Aviation Administration, which has to focus on the National airspace.
“The commercial guys are pulling a tighter turn that the FAA right now,”said Allenback, “They have formed a small unmanned aerial system coalition, they’re going to lobby for special rules and regulations to allow them to operate legally.”
The program is small at the moment, but there is hope for growth in the future. “We’ve got 8 people signed up for the first semester and looking to recruit more,”Allenback said.
The new UAS minor, added to Troy’s new private pilot program, has caused Troy to have aviation courses across the entire spectrum of flight.
Troy University has one UAS already being used on campus, but as of now there is no plan to have more. That plan could change in the future.
“There are other schools around the United States that have had programs in existence for a while that actually have teams and go out and compete,”said Allenback, “If this becomes an in-residence course, it could be a possibility to get more for the university.”
Because of the demand, the Unmanned Aerial Systems Overview, AFT 2200, is being offered for online Term 2 for Troy and is still open for students to register. Students can find more information online in the 2014-2015 undergraduate catalog under Aviation Flight Course.