Dreams of the World: One Dream a Time. This post is the latest in the series Dreams of the World, which profiles interesting people Kike meets during his travels. Drones and Small Unmanned Aerial Systems Special Series.
“My dream is to have a successful school with 30,000 students in five years,” said Dr. LeMieux. First of its kind, the Unmanned Vehicles University offers post-graduate engineering degrees, both masters and doctorate, in unmanned aerial vehicle systems. The concept is the brain-child of retired U.S. Air Force colonel and F-4 pilot Jerry LeMieux.
“What is a UAV? What do I need to start a UAV business? What are the commercial applications? These are some of the initial questions students ask when they first come to the university,” said LeMieux. Other questions follow quickly. Where can I get a job in this industry? What does it take to become a UAV pilot? Many students see UAVs as the next big thing and they want to be part of it.”
“Students are men and women from all walks of life,” said LeMieux. Many want to make a career change. With ages from 18-34, their interests range from real state to planning. Their backgrounds are all across the board. With our system, anyone can learn how to apply these new technologies to fields such as agriculture, power line inspection, consulting, infrastructure inspection, science, cargo delivery, sports, news, disaster management, firefighting or search and rescue,” said LeMieux.
Since posting the last article in the special series on Drones and Small Unmanned Aerial Systems , some interesting things have been happening in the industry in the United States. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is working on the approval process for UAV use in agriculture, power line, pipeline inspections and the film industry.
Most recently, the first commercial UAV flight occurred for British Petroleum (BP), when the FAA announced that permission for the first commercial drone to fly over U.S. land was assigned to the oil company. Using technology created by drone manufacturer AeroVironment, they will fly aerial surveys over Alaska’s North Slope. The services will include monitoring wildlife and ice floes, 3-D road mapping and pipeline inspection.
“The Alaska approval was issued via a restricted category type certificate, which is only available if the operator is using a drone that is already approved by the Department of Defense for military purposes,” said Brendan Schulman, head of the commercial drone law practice at the law firm of Kramer Levin. “Therefore, it is not really an example of the kind of commercial use of small drones that most people have in mind. This use in Alaska was also mandated by Congress in 2012 and is limited to remote areas, so it is really an exceptional situation rather than an example of the future regulatory framework.”
LeMieux´s new book “UAV Dictionary” includes more than 300 commercial applications explained. Whether you are a novice or an expert, you will learn about the commercial UAV industry by just reading though this very comprehensive dictionary.
“There are very few books on UAVs,¨ said LeMieux . The best way to keep current is to subscribe to UAV news services like suasnews.com or UAS Vision.”
Le Miuex recalls many memorable moments in his life. “There are several moments I will never forget,” said LeMieux. “Graduating from USAF pilot training, graduating with a PhD in EE and becoming an airline pilot.” These are just a few of the achievements of this successful author. Currently he teaches a workshop called Fundamentals of UAVs. Taught in several cities around the United States, including New York, Las Vegas and Washington DC, the course starts with the basics and builds up to advanced technologies: from UAV basics to how to start a UAV business. Other topics on this course include components, communications and data links, sensors and characteristics, ground control systems, small UAVs civil airspace integration, sense and avoid systems, alternative propulsion, UAV autonomous operations and UAV swarming.
Darrin Guilbeau was recently hired as an airborne sensor operator and he is interested in pursuing sensor development and teaching aerospace courses in the future. “I took the Fundamentals UAV Course to obtain a background in the current state of affairs and a better foundation in the UAS industry,” said Guilbeau. “It is a fundamental course for the other classes I am taking in the Doctoral Degree in Unmanned Systems Engineering. It provides a great review of current regulations, aircraft types, sensors, ground control stations, operational considerations, etc. and explains the direction in which the industry is going along with the challenges it faces.
Another student, Lori Carpenter, is a professional hydrologist who took the course to test whether she really wanted to spend two years getting a PhD in unmanned systems engineering. “I plan to use unmanned aerial systems in earth science applications to provide solutions for current problems related to climate change, threatened and endangered species and other habitat and wetland ecosystems,” said Carpenter.
The university is currently working on future courses including UAVs and Agriculture, UAV Laws, Regulations and Intellectual Property and UAV Entrepreneurship and Human Machine Interface Design for UAVs.
“Seeking to speed up government rule-making about the use of drones in newsgathering, CNN and the Georgia Institute of Technology announced they would jointly study how to operate unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) safely and effectively,” reported Brian Stelte for CNN Money recently. The FAA has severely limited the use of drones for commercial purposes, including newsgathering. The administration is due to develop new drone rules by September 2015.”