UASTEP is focused on developing educational and career pathways to prepare students to succeed as employees or entrepreneurs in the high growth unmanned aircraft systems (UAS), or "drone" industry. Led by Palomar College in San Marcos, California in close collaboration with Southwestern College in Chula Vista, California, this project serves to educate technicians for the high growth UAS industry in close collaboration with industry partners and other academic institutions.
California, and specifically San Diego, is home to the world's two leading UAS manufacturers and the demand is increasing for a workforce that specializes in the production of drone sensors, drone data analytics, and the development of UAS navigation technology for mapping and inspection applications. Because there is a lack of UAS educational programs, local colleges and universities have been urged to focus on UAS technology to preserve San Diego's leadership in the industry. In response to industry demand for qualified UAS technicians and the need for UAS educational programs, Palomar College and Southwestern College, along with their many industrial and educational partners, are developing new academic programs and educational pathways to prepare the next generation of UAS technicians.