KENT, Ohio — Drones are in the news following the announcement by Amazon.com that it may soon deliver packages using unmanned aerial systems.
And drones are a hot academic field. Beginning next fall Kent State University will teach college students how to build and fly them. Its College of Applied Engineering, Sustainability and Technology will offer a minor in unmanned aircraft systems. It will be an option for students enrolled in any of the five aeronautics degree concentrations.
The university cited studies that indicated more than 23,000 jobs in unmanned aircraft systems jobs could be created over the next 15 years. In addition to military operations drones could be used for geologic research, weather monitoring, surveying, wildfire surveillance, security and aerial photography.
“Failure to implement this proposal will place the aeronautics program behind leading institutions that already have UAS curriculum in place or are moving to implement curcciula to address the needs for this area,” said a proposal to the university’s Faculty Senate, which approved the program in February.
Dozens of colleges with aviation programs now offer courses in unmanned aerial systems, the New York Times has reported.
The University of North Dakota was first, in 2009, and has about 120 students in the field. Other universities with programs include Kansas State University Salina, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University and Indiana State University.
Today, the biggest use of drones is by the military and the Central Intelligence Agency, which operate hundreds of them around the world.
The Federal Aviation Administration is under instructions from Congress to fully integrate them by 2015. Regulations for lightweight craft are being rolled out as the FAA works through new technologies to secure radio communications and avoid collisions, the newspaper reported.
The agency predicts that 10,000 remote-piloted planes will be operating in American airspace within five years.