NCTC, SCSU celebrate partnership, NSF grant

Northland Community & Technical College (NCTC) and St. Cloud State University partner to enhance geospatial information technology (GIT) and unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) education in the region and develop educational pathways for students.

St. Cloud State Interim President Ashish Vaidya and NCTC President Dennis Bona signed an agreement Sept. 27 at NCTC to work together to develop collaborations and mutually beneficial programs and activities in support of the advancement of GIT and UAS education and training by:

  • Enhancing GIT and UAS curriculum modelling for broad disciplines such as agriculture, public safety and infrastructure inspection.
  • Establishing collaborative educational pathways by integrating new and existing curriculum across Minnesota State through dual-credit enrollment and 2+2 articulation.
  • Expanding GIT and UAS professional development opportunities and educational resources throughout higher education through development of curriculum and materials, access to laboratory resources and workshops for college faculty, high school teacher sand students.

The activities of the two institutions are funded by the National Science Foundation Advanced Technological Education (ATE) division. This September, NCTC, earned an almost $600,000 grant from the organization to support the work.

NCTC has strong programs in aviation maintenance, UAS maintenance , geospatial intelligence and UAS operations, which are training students and conducting research into how new technologies can be used to serve the needs of agriculture, watershed monitors and utility companies, said Jonathan Beck, NCTC UAS instructor and program manager.

These NCTC programs are working with St. Cloud State’s Spacial Analysis Research Center and programs in geographic information systems and land surveying and mapping sciences to continue to advance understanding of how this technology can be used and how to bring it into the classroom, he said.

Beck and St. Cloud State Professor Ben Richason were co-principle investigators on the grant.