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Teaching the Future of UAV Technology

Rarely a day goes by when a headline story doesn’t pop up spotlighting another fascinating use for civilian UAV technology. The opportunity for innovation is as boundless as prospective applications. From search and rescue operations to delivering text books, tacos or retail products; from monitoring crop health to capturing breathtaking imagery for Hollywood cinematography; from 3D modeling for construction sites to tracking volcanic activity, civilian UAV are providing timely, flexible and cost-effective solutions for data gathering.

But where are the technologists who will lead the charge in developing applications for this emerging technology? Apparently, many of them are studying at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.

We reached out to Brent Terwilliger, Associate Chair, Master of Aeronautical Science and UAS Discipline Chair at Embry-Riddle Worldwide. According to Professor Terwilliger, the Master of Aeronautical Science draws about 10,000 students and the Bachelor of Science in Aeronautics around 5,000 students each year to the university’s Worldwide Campus. Courses are offered at more than 150 locations worldwide and online. Professor Terwilliger explained: “Educational programs center on learning the science, practice and business of aviation and aerospace, in order to prepare students for productive careers and leadership roles in service around the world.”

Embry-Riddle is not only a forerunner in teaching cutting-edge aeronautical sciences, but they are also pioneering online learning, enabling students to access their curriculum from almost anywhere in the world. EagleVision is a system Embry-Riddle Worldwide uses to deliver courses to students in a virtual classroom environment. Students can participate in classes from their homes or from a classroom with other students.

Michael Millard, Adjunct Instructor, has been teaching for Embry-Riddle Worldwide for nine years.

He developed the first UAS robotics course for EagleVision, which introduces students to technology innovation in the area of aeronautical science. A highlight of the course is the roster of guest lecturers he invites to speak to the class. Professor Millard invites leaders from academia and industry to introduce the class to emerging topics in aeronautical technology, with a focus on UAV technology.

To give Embry-Riddle Worldwide students a basic foundation for understanding UAV/UAS operations, Professor Millard brought in a chairman of a large RC aircraft organization as well as 3D Robotic’s Brandon Basso, senior R&D engineer. Brandon provided “in-depth and informative presentation that kept my students enthralled and wanting more insight into this exciting industry,” said Professor Millard.

According to Millard, every one of his students has an interest in building a career in some aspect of UAV technology. “Most are majoring or minoring in UAV technology, so it is exciting for me to see that Embry-Riddle offers courses and degrees to support future engineers and employees in this amazing technology.“

Professor Millard is excited about this burgeoning field. “We live in an amazing time in aviation history that will see UAV’s operating in the same National Airspace System as other industry aircraft. We are living and working in an industry that was science fiction not very many years ago. To me, this is an awe-inspiring place to be! 3DR is a prime example of how companies can use the latest technology to improve the resources the world has to offer, and Brandon’s presentation has truly inspired my students to be part of the future in UAV technology!”

Learn more about Embry-Riddle’s academic programs here.

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