Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS)


Develop a highly trained and skilled drone-operator workforce to support the emerging drone industry in the counties served by Mountain Empire Community College by providing industry driven and developed Unmanned System’s training targeted directly toward the nascent industry adopters: Police, EMS, Agriculture, Infrastructure Inspection, Emergency Response, Real Estate, Tourism/Videography, and Delivery.

Program Learning Outcomes 

Upon successful completion, students will be able to:

  • Obtain FAA Remote Pilot Certification
  • Properly apply FAA operations and safety regulations to UAS Ops
  • Choose proper UAS for a specific task/mission/data collection
  • Build, configure, maintain, troubleshoot, and repair small Unmanned Systems
  • Properly inspect UAS and Ground Systems/Radios before flight
  • Plan and carry out safe and successful live flight UMS missions
  • Plan and carry out safe and successful autonomous UMS missions
  • Supervise a UMS flight crew in accomplishing a mission
  • Understand controlled airspace and obtain the necessary authorization to fly there
  • Understand weather and its effects on flight
  • Choose, mount, and configure the proper sensor(s) for mission data collection and retrieval
  • Understand and implement data security for all customer data
  • Process collected data to produce meaningful reports for customers
  • Properly inspect UAS and Ground Systems/Radios after mission
  • Maintain all flight and maintenance logs for UMS equipment

Employment Opportunities

By 2021 the FAA estimates there could be as many as 1.6 million small drones in commercial use. FAA Administrator Michael Huerta said in a recent speech at AUVSI Xponential Dallas Texas, “The only limitation seems to be: How quickly we – all of us, across the industry – can make it happen, safely.” The MECC region boasts 94 aviation related companies focusing on aerospace product, manufacturing, air transportation, and aviation support activities located within 100 miles; 32 within 50 miles; and three companies within 25 miles of Wise County. The U.S. Military (all branches) are currently in desperate need of qualified UAV pilots, all branches are reporting 100’s of open positions. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts 11% – 20% growth each year for the next 10 years. The FAA estimates small, hobbyist UAS purchases may grow from 1.9 million in 2016 to as many as 4.3 million by 2020.  Sales of UAS for commercial purposes are expected to grow from 600,000 in 2016 to 2.7 million by 2020.  Combined total hobbyist and commercial UAS sales are expected to rise from 2.5 million in 2016 to 7 million in 2020. Industries already being transformed by drone piloting skills

  • Utilities: Using drones to inspect powerlines, telephone towers and wind turbines without needing to employ several people, cranes and cherry pickers
  • Mining: Drones are already commonplace and are used to measure stock piles of minerals in hours, rather than days. Also used for surveying work and environmental impact research
  • Fast Food Delivery: Big companies such as Domino’s Pizza will be looking to invest in drones for pizza delivery in the future
  • Package Delivery: Australia Post and Amazon are already investing in drone technology as a way of delivering packages
  • Trades: Being able to inspect things from a height, such as a solar panel output, leaking roofs and guttering.
  • Real Estate: Panoramic aerial footage of properties to show investors new opportunities or create marketing videos
  • Wedding photography: Aerial videography of weddings is set to become the next big thing and will allow couples to capture diverse and creative footage of their special day

Program Requirements

An academic advisor will review your preparation in Mathematics and English with you. You’ll be guided to appropriate preliminary coursework to give you the greatest chance of success in this program.

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