Educating Entrepreneurial Technicians for Unmanned Aerial Systems

The Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) industry continues to grow at a rapid rate, creating new jobs and economic opportunities. As a result, there is a strong demand for technicians with knowledge about the technology, operation, and rules of UAS, as well as effective communication skills, business know-how, and the skills to safely and effectively apply the technologies for commercial purposes. Widespread commercial UAS activities in the United States have already increased workforce demands, not just in UAS companies but also across a broad range of industries that use UAS. Offering ways for students to obtain the skill sets to work in existing companies, develop their own businesses, or create their own inventions with UAS technologies is becoming increasingly important. To help address this need, Sinclair Community College and their industry partners will develop an education program that prepares the entrepreneurial technicians needed in the UAS field. In this way, the project will seek to enhance the number of well-qualified UAS technicians, thus supporting the continued growth and integration of UAS solutions for the nation's industries.

The goal of this project is to educate a new type of entrepreneurial technician who is equipped with the technical and other skills required for success in the dynamic, quickly evolving UAS industry. The project partners will develop a competency-based curriculum that results in a one-year UAS Entrepreneurship Certificate. This curriculum will include new courses that focus on entrepreneurial principles and modified existing courses that focus on UAS applications and technologies. Enhancements will include hands-on and interactive project-based learning experiences through which students can master UAS knowledge and skills. An innovative aspect of the curriculum will be a UAS entrepreneurship kick-starter competition. This venture capital style competition will engage students in applying course content to create new ideas or new connections to available intellectual property. The competition will cultivate students' entrepreneurship abilities by providing them with access to mentoring from technical and business experts, as well as access to cutting-edge UAS technologies. The project team will also develop course modules on UAS technologies and entrepreneurial applications for high school teachers and students. These materials will be used in outreach and professional development activities with high schools to promote career interest in this technology field. Project materials and results will be widely shared and disseminated on websites of partnering organizations, in publications, through webinars, and presentations at regional and national venues.

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