Ready for Takeoff: Lessons Learned in the Development of a Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems (sUAS) Remote Sensing Lab at Frostburg State University

Authors: Matthew E. Ramspott*, Department of Geography, Frostburg State University, Phillip P. Allen, Department of Geography, Frostburg State University
Topics: Remote Sensing, Higher Education
Keywords: UAS, remote sensing, curriculum development, higher education
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/4/2019
Start / End Time: 3:05 PM / 4:45 PM
Room: Harding, Marriott, Mezzanine Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems (sUAS) are rapidly becoming common in applications within Geography, Earth Science, Environmental Science, Planning, and many other fields. For faculty with a teaching focus in these areas, this emerging technology provides some unique educational challenges and opportunities. The authors report on lessons learned in the ongoing development of a sUAS Remote Sensing Laboratory at Frostburg State University, a regional comprehensive university situated in rural Western Maryland. With the goals of developing workforce technical skills and establishing a regional hub for knowledge and expertise in all aspects of sUAS operations, the building of the Laboratory has initially focused on selecting appropriate technical resources to enable development of undergraduate curriculum and collaborative research opportunities. Also important are the establishment of a network of professional partners and initiation of public outreach efforts. Frostburg State University encourages faculty to develop programs and curricula to support institutional objectives of regional economic development and engagement. Ideally, this orientation presents incentives and opportunities for finding multidisciplinary and organizational synergies. The authors believe educational programs involving sUAS will have a significant role to play in this activity. The obvious benefits of updating traditional major program offerings in the geospatial sciences with new and exciting sUAS technology include renewed and active engagement of student interest. Concurrently, the Laboratory has faced the challenges of integrating specialized new tools into a technological infrastructure that is oriented toward support of more generalized instructional needs, while under pressure to conform to standards of operational efficiency and cost-effectiveness.

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