The University of North Dakota’s unmanned aircraft degree program, the nation’s first, exploded from five students in 2009 to 120 students last year. Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University and Kansas State University have since added similar programs.
Dozens of other schools offer some courses in what’s known as UAS — unmanned aircraft systems — which range from drones as big as small planes to two-foot-wide mini-helicopters.
Drones are best known for their use by the U.S. military, but other markets beckon. Amazon made a splash earlier this month by unveiling an embryonic effort that might someday deliver packages by drone, though the company acknowledged practical use is years away.