Unmanned Aircraft Systems Technology Education Consortium (UASTEC)
Geospatial Technology (GST) is a general term that relates to the use of technology for collection and processing of geospatial data in a variety of contexts and applications. GST applications range from environmental monitoring and remote sensing to drug and law enforcement, pipeline inspection, agriculture and ranch management. With the widespread availability of high resolution satellite imagery equipment, desktop software for Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and inexpensive Global Positioning Systems (GPS) receivers, geospatial technologies are currently at the forefront of the revolution in the acquisition and analysis of critical data that impacts daily life. An integral part of geospatial technology equipment is the unmanned aircraft system (UAS) also known as the "drone". UAS are subsystems used to collect aerial data, hence they include instruments such as digital cameras, sensors and radiometers. The goal of the proposed project is to improve geospatial technology education at the community and technical college level to increase the number, diversity, and quality of geospatial technology professionals. This is achieved primarily through the establishment of a unique broad-based consortium of key stakeholders called the Unmanned Aircraft System Technology Education Consortium (UASTEC). The members of the consortium are Del Mar College (DMC, a public two year community college), Texas A&M University - Corpus Christi (TAMUCC) a 4-year institution and the Lone Star UAS Center of Excellence.
The UASTEC project will create a new four-course DMC certificate in UAS Technology that can be earned in as little as two semesters. The new UAS curriculum will prepare technicians to assist in the maintenance and operation of expensive UAS equipment with a solid understanding of the technology and regulatory requirements for their legal commercial operation. The project simultaneously emphasizes both career and technical education and workforce professional development. Through an articulation agreement with TAMUCC, the DMC UAS certificate will transfer seamlessly. The GST workforce will be able to enroll in the UAS Certificate program through a continuing education arrangement that bypasses tedious college application processes while permitting academic college credit for a nominal fee. Additionally, the project reaches out to high schools to train secondary school teachers in UAS in order to give high-school students the opportunity to earn college credit by enrollment in dual-credit college level GIS courses.