Starting this fall, the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, will offer students the chance to minor in UAV technology. Dr. Rama Venkat, Dean of the Howard Hughes College of Engineering, says the degree is a perfect fit: The college has been doing extensive UAV work for 3–5 years now — largely radiation research in and around the Nevada National Security Site, a former nuclear test facility — and they already offer a masters in aerospace engineering. And since the FAA announced last December that Nevada, with its avionics history and wide open air space, would be one of six official drone test sites in the U.S., it’s also the perfect time.
The minor has three core courses: design & applications (e.g., water grid, ranching and agriculture, nuclear and disaster recovery); flight practice with simulators and real UAVs; and a law class on privacy issues, where students will examine the balance of technology, safety, and privacy. Some of these classes will be taught not by professors, but by industry partners who have experience flying drones.
Recently, the college reached out to 3D Robotics about a possible partnership. “We didn’t want to develop this minor in a vacuum,” Venkat said. The school has a grant from Nevada’s Knowledge Fund, dedicated to commercializing university technology, and will use that money to work with industry partners like 3DR to create new technologies and companies in Nevada. Drones are arriving in a big way, and Venkat wants his state to have a workforce ready for the industry, to create these companies, and to create jobs: “We want our students to be employers, not just employees.”
To learn more about UNLV’s groundbreaking drone minor, click here.