University of North Dakota Launches Nation’s First Collegiate Program in Unmanned Aircraft Systems

GRAND FORKS, N.D., Oct. 15 /PRNewswire/ — The University of North Dakota John
D. Odegard School of Aerospace Sciences (UND Aerospace), a world-renowned
center for aerospace research, training and learning, is the first educational
institution in the nation to offer an undergraduate major in Unmanned Aircraft
Systems (UAS) Operations. The program addresses the increasing demand for
qualified pilots and sensor operators in the rapidly growing field of UAS,
high-altitude aircraft that are flown remotely from the ground for both
military and commercial uses.

Launched in August 2009 as the only collegiate program of its type in the
world, the curriculum places UND Aerospace in the midst of expanded U.S.
acceptance and application of long-endurance, multi-mission aircraft capable
of delivering persistent situational awareness and rapid strike capabilities.
UAS are primarily used by the military for long-endurance reconnaissance and
intelligence-gathering, and on missions that are too dangerous to risk the
lives of flight crew. Civilian uses include firefighting, law enforcement,
border control, ocean surveillance and weather prediction.

Describing the current shortage of qualified UAS professionals, UND Aerospace
Dean Bruce Smith said, "UAS is an emerging technology that has experienced
dramatic growth over the past decade. As platform use increases with military,
law enforcement and other commercial applications, the demand for qualified
pilots and operators will increase as well. Our program offers tremendous
career opportunities to students who are passionate about aviation and aspire
to push the envelope of innovation."

UND Aerospace combines a liberal arts core curriculum with comprehensive
aviation education and all-season flight training. It supports over 100
airplanes and helicopters, the world’s largest collegiate training fleet. More
than 7,822 students have graduated from UND Aerospace since its founding in

Consistently rated as one of the top aviation programs in the nation, UND has
received more than $24 million in federal, state and private funding since
2006 to research UAS performance data and national airspace issues, such as
how UAS can be integrated into existing traffic patterns and airspace used by
commercial and general aviation aircraft.

About UND Aerospace
UND Aerospace is an international leader in collegiate and contract aviation
education and training services. Flying over 100,000 hours annually, UND
Aerospace also has facilities in Spokane, Wash., with Spokane Falls Community
College; Phoenix, Ariz., in conjunction with Chandler-Gilbert Community
College; and Crookston, Minn., with the University of Minnesota.

With more than 1,900 students from all over the world, undergraduate and
graduate programs–including several distance-learning degree programs–that
lead to a variety of rewarding careers in aerospace are offered through five
different academic departments: aviation, atmospheric sciences, computer
science, earth system science and policy, and space studies. The UND Aerospace
complex is the most technologically advanced environment for aerospace
education, training and research in the world. For more information, visit