Explosive growth and innovation in unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) technology and applications will continue to create new jobs and a demand for a trained workforce in this emerging sector. With support from the National Science Foundation, Virginia’s community colleges are at the forefront of preparing the UAS workforce of the future.

Funded by the National Science Foundation and administered by the Virginia Space Grant Consortium, the Geospatial Technician Education-Unmanned Aircraft Systems (GeoTEd-UAS) project is providing professional development and training in UAS for educators. The GeoTEd-UAS faculty cohort will return for its second training session, hosted by Virginia Tech’s Department of Forest Resources and Environmental Conservation in the College of Natural Resources and Environment May 20 through 25.

Attendees in the GeoTEd-UAS Faculty Institute will gain hands-on experience in flying and operating small UAS to conduct a variety of missions. They will plan and conduct manually flown missions and autonomous UAS missions to collect data to make actionable decisions. Other institute topics include UAS federal and state laws and regulations, repairing and maintaining UAS vehicles, and integrating student service-learning projects into the college pathways.

GeoTEd-UAS is a statewide partnership to develop the UAS workforce through new community college career pathways and building faculty capacity at Virginia’s community colleges. Partners include Mountain Empire Community College, Thomas Nelson Community College, the Virginia Community College System, the Virginia Space Grant Consortium, and Virginia Tech. The goal of the project is to train faculty who can prepare students for success as UAS operations technicians who will plan and fly UAS missions to collect and analyze data to solve problems and answer questions.

Educators in the 2018 GeoTEd-UAS faculty cohort include:

  • Eric Beaver, Tidewater Community College.
  • Peter Berquist, Thomas Nelson Community College.
  • Charles Bundy, Southwest Virginia Community College.
  • Steve Carrigan, Danville Community College.
  • Sam Doak, Virginia Tech Agricultural Technology Program.
  • Mark Fitzgerald, Blue Ridge Community College.
  • John Floyd, Eastern Shore Community College.
  • Judy Gill, Tidewater Community College.
  • Jake Gilly, Mountain Empire Community College.
  • Roger Greene, Mountain Empire Community College.
  • Kevin Hamed, Virginia Highlands Community College.
  • Eric Hoffman, Patrick Henry High School.
  • Tamara Lasley, Virginia Highlands Community College.
  • Scott Reigel, Dabney S. Lancaster Community College.
  • Shawn Shields, Germanna Community College.
  • Veronica Spradlin, Montgomery County Public Schools.
  • Kevin Stillwell, Southwest Virginia Community College.
  • Douglas Williams, The Community College of Baltimore County (Maryland).
  • Maury Wrightson, Germanna Community College.
  • Julie Young, Thomas Nelson Community College.