U of A Drone Experts Train State Public Agencies

Jack Cothren, director of the Center for Advanced Spatial Technology, and Richard Ham, associate director of the M.S. in Engineering and Operations Management, spoke recently with Arkansas agencies about drones.
Photo by Richard Ham

Jack Cothren, director of the Center for Advanced Spatial Technology, and Richard Ham, associate director of the M.S. in Engineering and Operations Management, spoke recently with Arkansas agencies about drones.

University of Arkansas experts in unmanned aircraft systems, commonly called "drones," gave a four-hour seminar for Arkansas public agencies considering starting UAS programs on Aug. 31. Among the topics discussed were complying with Federal Aviation Administration laws, selection of drones and sensors for various types of operations. Management of risk and safety management systems were topics presented, as well as how to develop effective policy and guidance. Attendees included law enforcement, first responders, highway department and various state engineers and inspectors. 

Jerry Chism, director of the Arkansas Department of Aeronautics, sponsored the event to improve state access to experts and improve effectiveness of state programs. "It is really a win-win for our state," stated Chism. "We have a wealth of knowledge and expertise in Arkansas to help us implement this new technology in a safe and cost effective manner."  

Jack Cothren, director of the university's Center for Advanced Spatial Technology, and Richard Ham, associate director of the Master of Science programs in engineering and operations management, briefed attendees on compliance issues and effective sensor use.

"CAST is training our next generation of students with remote sensing skills, including a course in UAS remote sensing," said Cothren, "We see the future and are working to prepare our students to enter the job market with the right skills." CAST is conducting numerous research projects using unmanned aircraft systems, including collaboration with two national laboratories. 

Ham commented, "We added a foundation course in drones to teach our students how to select and operate a UAS effectively and safely. Last year, our first class resulted in 100 percent pass rate on the FAA Part 107 Remote Pilot Exam leading to over 20 students becoming FAA-certificated remote pilots as well as being trained to use data processing software." Additionally, university experts worked with industry representatives to showcase the newest technologies, including one unmanned aircraft systems and sensor package worth nearly $250,000.

Last year, the university sponsored the first annual Arkansas Unmanned Aircraft Summit, which will occur this year on Oct. 12 in the Reynolds Center Auditorium. The summit brings together federal, state and local government, academe and industry to network on ways to improve the value of drones to the citizens of Arkansas. 

 

Contacts

Richard Ham, associate director
Engineering Management and Operations Management Programs
479-575-5521, richardh@uark.edu


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