Training a new type of pilot, the John D. Odegard School of Aerospace Sciences at the University of North Dakota is preparing pilots for the future of flight. Using Corsair Engineering Inc.’s Full Mission Unmanned Aircraft Systems Training Simulator, the school has developed coursework and a degree that provides students who complete the requirements a Bachelor’s of Science in Aeronautics with a degree in Unmanned Systems.
The unmanned systems degree program, started in 2009, saw its first class graduate in 2011 with 24 students successfully completing the program to date. Currently UND has 93 undergraduates enrolled in the program with more students expected for the new semester.
Aimed at students who are seeking a career in the civil unmanned aircraft systems industry, the UND Aerospace program provides the instruction needed to prepare graduates for work as pilots, operators, or developmental team members of unmanned aircraft systems (UAS).
For its hands-on training UND utilizes Corsair Engineering Inc.’s ScanEagle Full Mission Training Device. The device was built in cooperation with Boeing/Insitu to fully replicate the ScanEagle UAS. To provide the highest fidelity training opportunity for UAS operators Corsair’s Envision Training Environment™ (Envision TE) was integrated with the actual ScanEagle Ground Control System (GCS) software. Envision TE, based on the Simigon, Inc SIMbox™ simulation platform, allows multiple unmanned aircraft to be placed into extremely realistic scenarios that simulate various missions, terrains, weather, or times of day. Operators can use multiple sensors depending on the situation, and the instructor can alter the situation real-time depending on the student’s performance. The simulator also allows for additional unmanned systems, such as ground and underwater unmanned vehicles, to be added to provide a well rounded education for prospective unmanned professionals.
According to Mark Hastings, Chief UAS Pilot at UND, “The ScanEagle Simulator built by Corsair Engineering has quickly become an integral part of our UAS Degree program.”
The primary courses designed around Corsair’s simulator are AVIT 337, Survey of UAS Operations and AVIT 338, UAS Operations. These courses are designed to develop the student’s knowledge and skills needed to safely employ UASs, including operating software, launch and recovery operations, payload operations, normal and emergency procedures, and mission planning and execution.
One of the benefits of the ScanEagle simulator has been the dependability. “The simulator’s high level of fidelity has proven second to none allowing us to provide the instruction required to ensure our graduates leave with the skills needed to succeed in this growing industry,” says Hastings. “As one can imagine, the pace of our curriculum combined with a college student’s schedule doesn’t provide us with a forgiving timetable. Since including the simulator in our curriculum, we have amassed over 1800 hours of instructional time on the device while maintaining 100% dispatch reliability. In addition, the flexibility of the Corsair Engineering product has allowed us to constantly update our courseware to meet the changing demands of the UAS industry.”