Drones en route to UNR, school will offer minor

UNR to offer minor in unmanned systems in 2014

A drone known as the Integrator on display at UNR Fridayd Sept. 20, 2013. Marilyn Newton/RGJ

Drones.

They’re often associated with ferreting out terrorist leaders hiding in caves or with mishap strikes that kill innocent people in faraway countries.

But drones also can be used to determine the size and direction of a fire, assess the amount of damage being caused by the massive flooding in Colorado or count the number of bighorn sheep in Nevada.

In the industry, drones are called unmanned autonomous systems, and the University of Nevada, Reno announced Friday it will offer a new minor in this rapidly growing field next spring.

The announcement was made at the UNR campus, where students and community leaders also were able to explore the unmanned autonomous systems developed by Drone America of Reno and Insitu, a subsidiary of Boeing based in Bening, Wash.

Manos Maragakis, dean of UNR’s College of Engineering, said the future of unmanned autonomous systems will offer a wide range of job opportunities for students.

“We know there will be huge professional opportunities for the students, and we wanted to start somewhere,” he said of offering students the new minor.

Maragakis said the state has targeted unmanned autonomous systems as one of the areas that should be pursued to diversify and stimulate Nevada’s economy.

He said the college’s faculty will be able to partner with industry to pursue grants and solve highly complex technical problems.

That also will provide research opportunities for the students.

UNR currently limits its drones to indoor flights, pending approval of a permit the Federal Aviation Administration requires for institutions or businesses to take to the skies outdoors.

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