St Mary’s University in San Antonio, Texas has begun construction of a state-of-the-art ‘Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) Laboratory’, or ‘Drone Lab’.
The $600,000 (£470,000) facility will support UAS aspects of certain courses at the university, as well as play home to summer camps for high school students.
At 51 feet tall and 1,734 square feet, the Drone Lab — complete with a flight area, an observation area and workstations — will allow professors to incorporate drones into their curriculum and students to take on more drone-related research for industry partners.
“This is an opportunity to add programming that will launch St. Mary’s graduates into a fast-growing emergent industry,” said Winston Erevelles, dean of the university’s school of science, engineering and technology.
He continued: “The Federal Aviation Administration predicts the US registered commercial drone fleet to climb to between 442,000 and 1.6 million units in the next few years, which will in turn create a few hundred thousand jobs.”
Meanwhile, professor of electrical engineering, Bahman Rezaie, added: “Drone technology has been around for more than 50 years. However, it was exclusively used by the military and was not available to the private sector until recently.
“The more drones become part of everyday business in all aspects of life, the more need for a workforce that is knowledgeable and capable of maintaining and designing a variety of drones.
“The new UAS concentration will integrate multiple engineering disciplines that are necessary for the successful preparation of our graduates to meet the needs of our region and beyond.”