The Virginia Space Grant Consortium is excited to announce that selections have been made for our student interns and faculty. The six student interns come from five different community colleges and the four faculty represent three different community colleges. The table below summarizes the participants.

Project Overview


The mission of the GeoTEd-UAS project is to prepare students for success as small unmanned aircraft systems (sUAS) operations technicians (sUAS-OT) and as geospatial technicians. Small sUAS-OT duties typically include planning and flying sUAS missions, maintaining sUAS, and processing geospatial data to analyze and solve problems.


The GeoTEd-UAS Internship Program supports six community college students and eight community college faculty to increase their knowledge and skills in sUAS through engagement in cutting-edge research and flight-testing projects. Students will participate in a four-week internship and faculty will mentor the students and gain experience in coordinating sUAS missions and student experiences.


The internships will be hosted by the Center for Unmanned Aircraft Systems (C-UAS) at Virginia Tech. The C-UAS was established in 2012 as an NSF Industry/University Cooperative Research Center (IUCRC) by Brigham Young University and the University of Colorado at Boulder. The purpose of the Center is to provide innovative solutions to key technical challenges and superb training for future leaders in the UAS industry. The Virginia Tech site is led by Dr. Craig Woolsey, Professor in the Department of Aerospace and Ocean Engineering at VT.


The internships provide community college students with real-world technical and research experience in collaboration and support of the Center. The interns support sUAS flight testing including coordinating and conducting experimental and test flights.


Typical objectives and tasks of the flight test missions include automated or piloted maneuvers for model identification (flight dynamics), flight control law testing and validation (flight control) and obtaining imagery and other data (mission sensing). Typical duties of the student interns include pre-planning discussions of the flight test objectives and procedures; providing pre-briefs on operation and safety; mission execution, recovery, and post-flight analysis and summary. To help prepare them for these activities, the student participants will participate in weekly tutorials on relevant topics in flight dynamics, flight control, and mission sensing. It is expected that the students will be able to contribute to publishable scholarly research.


To prepare the students and faculty for the internships, Thomas Nelson will offer two unmanned systems (UMS) courses and the project will fund the tuition for all participants. The project is preparing students who need their FAA Part 107 Remote Pilot Certificate through an online UMS course led by Young and Bellows. The project team will also develop and offer a custom online UMS 111 (Introduction to sUAS) course through Thomas Nelson for all students and faculty participants. This course will be instructed by Daniel Cross, project associate with the Virginia Tech College of Natural Resources and Environment and Thomas Nelson adjunct faculty member, and will include three in-person sUAS training sessions to provide the knowledge and flying experience necessary to support the C-UAS’s specific needs during the internship period. This course will serve as a model for future similar courses throughout the Commonwealth.


Applications have closed.

Student Eligibility and Internship Requirements


To be eligible students must:

  • Be a US Citizen
  • Be 18 years of age or older at the time of internship
  • Have transportation to/from onsite training sessions in spring and summer internship site at VT (costs reimbursed)


Internship Requirements:

  1. Students do not need a Part 107 RPC or have completed UMS 111 prior to applying, but…
  2. Prior to the internship, selected students are required to complete the UMS 107-Remote Pilot Ground School and obtain their FAA Remote Pilot Certificate (RPC). Students may also enroll in the Mapping With Drones 3-day virtual course to prepare for the RPC exam. Other opportunities to prepare for the RPC exist but should be pre-approved before enrolling.
  3. Selected students must complete an online UMS 111 (Intro to sUAS) course through Thomas Nelson Community College that includes three Saturday onsite training sessions during spring semester 2022. This custom UMS 111 course will prepare students and faculty for the internship. Tuition scholarships are available for both UMS courses required prior to the internship. The online internship prep course will be offered March 14 – May 7, 2022.
  4. Students are required to attend three full-day training sessions during the spring semester 2022. These sessions will be in the Hampton Roads area and are tentatively scheduled on March 26, April 16, and April 30, 2022. With a backup date of May 7. Travel costs will be reimbursed.


**Students who already have their RPC do not need to complete the UMS 107 course. Proof of Remote Pilot Certificate is required.

**All students are required to complete the UMS 111 internship preparation course and attend the three onsite training sessions in spring 2022.

Tuition Scholarships and Stipend


Selected students who need to take the UMS 107 course will be provided with tuition scholarship to take during the spring semester. Selected students will also be provided a tuition scholarship for the required spring semester UMS course and be provided a small UAS for use during the course. Students are responsible for the cost of the FAA Part 107 RPC exam (estimated at $160).


In addition to tuition support, travel funding, and operating supplies, student interns will earn a stipend of $4,000 for completing the internship. The NSF funding is provided through a special supplemental funding opportunity titled Skills Training in Advanced Research and Technology (START). START provides students and faculty from two-year institutions of higher education who are participating in NSF Advanced Technological Education (ATE) projects with experiential learning opportunities through research internships that involve partnerships with Industry-University Cooperative Research Centers (IUCRC). The C-UAS is the only UAS focused IUCRC funded by the NSF. The six student internships are being coordinated through the VSGC-led Commonwealth STEM Industry Internship Program (CSIIP).



Applications are due November 12, 2021. Applicants will be notified by December 10 about their internship application.


Spring semester onsite training sessions in the Hampton Roads area are tentatively scheduled on March 26, April 16, and April 30, 2022. With a backup date of May 7.


The four-week internship period runs from June 5 – July 1, 2022. It is expected that students will be available and onsite at VT for the full four-week internship period. Some evening and weekend work is required.

Funding Update


The National Science Foundation (NSF) has awarded the Virginia Space Grant Consortium (VSGC) $179,884 to supplement workforce development and education in small unmanned aircraft systems (sUAS) in partnership with Virginia’s community colleges and Virginia Tech. The funding will supplement the VSGC’s current NSF-funded Geospatial Technician EducationUAS (GeoTEd-UAS) project to provide six community college students with four-week sUAS internships during summer 2022 in partnership with the Center for UAS (C-UAS) at Virginia Tech. Four Virginia community college faculty will each also participate in one-week internships and work with the students while gaining experience and hands-on training to further improve their ability to teach sUAS courses.


This one year of funding will expand GeoTEd-UAS to provide students and faculty with real world experience and hands-on training in support of the research and flight testing led by the CUAS. Thomas Nelson Community College (becoming Virginia Peninsula Community College), the Virginia Community College System, Virginia Tech’s College of Natural Resources and Environment, and several faculty consultants are also partners in the project. The C-UAS is a multi-university research center sponsored by the NSF and several other government and industry sponsors. The Virginia Tech site is led by Dr. Craig Woolsey whose research interests include aircraft flight dynamic modeling and control. The mission of the GeoTEd-UAS project is to develop and implement academic pathways and train community college faculty to prepare the future sUAS operations technician (sUAS-OT) workforce.