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.