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Go To Uni, Earn a Degree In Drones

Soulskill posted about a year ago | from the with-a-minor-in-launching-hellfire-missiles-remotely dept.

Education 66

New submitter KernelMuncher writes "Curricula and research projects related to drones are cropping up at both large universities and community colleges across the country. In a list of 81 publicly-funded entities that have applied for a certificate of authorization to fly drones from the Federal Aviation Administration, more than a third are colleges... Schools — and their students — are jockeying for a position on the ground floor of a nascent industry that looks poised to generate jobs and research funding in the coming years. 'We get a lot of inquiries from students saying, "I want to be a drone pilot,"' says Ken Polovitz, the assistant dean in the University of North Dakota's John D. Odegard School of Aerospace Sciences."

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66 comments

Anyone... (5, Insightful)

TapeCutter (624760) | about a year ago | (#43218079)

..who "wants" to be a drone pilot, should not be a drone pilot.

Re:Anyone... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43218161)

Reminds me of Douglas Adams:

anyone who is capable of getting themselves made president should on no account be allowed to do the job.

Re:Anyone... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43218237)

As I was reading it, suddenly his face came to my mind:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Angus_T._Jones_2,_2011.jpg

Re:Anyone... (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43218255)

some of the best pilots in RC are able to turn something they enjoy into something that can earn a very healthy living.

for many operations it's simply not worth it to trust the aircraft to the computer, especially if the payload had done silly things with the flight characteristics. skilled RC guys can account for such things if they have the skills. get paid healthy $$$ to be shipped somewhere to take drones off, hand them over to the computer... then wait for them to come back and land them.

so... maybe not the average-dude-in-the-street, but if you have the skills, not a bad way to get to play with some serious RC toys.

being a sponsored giant scale RC aerobatics pilot, I was asked a few weeks back if I wanted to help go train drone pilots... thinking about it...

Re:Anyone... (1)

Curunir_wolf (588405) | about a year ago | (#43218593)

some of the best pilots in RC are able to turn something they enjoy into something that can earn a very healthy living.

Healthy for who?

More to the point, unhealthy for who?

Re:Anyone... (1)

skitchen8 (1832190) | about a year ago | (#43219311)

Let's see: Have you seen the people the power companies hire to hang off the side of a helicopter to inspect high voltage lines? What if you could do that from the ground? These helicopters crash and kill people, an rc craft crashes and wastes a few thousand dollars and zero lives. Have you heard of searches for missing people get called off because of nightfall or weather? RC helis are much cheaper, batteries much quicker to replace, and the pilots are never in dangerous situations. Ever seen any bush pilots? Imagine if an RC aircraft can he called upon in the middle of the night to deliver life saving medications to a remote town without risking a single human life. Just because some remotely piloted aircraft are used in the field of battle does not mean they are killing machines, or that operators are trained to kill. There are a lot of technologies that were "perfected" on the battlefield that have great civilian uses. Also, you are a fucking moron, asshat.

Re:Anyone... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43220507)

Wonderfully crafted rebuttal, good sir.

It's tainted by that closing statement, however.

Re:Anyone... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43220819)

"Imagine if an RC aircraft can he called upon in the middle of the night to deliver life saving medications to a remote town without risking a single human life."

Kinda like this?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Human_experimentation_in_the_United_States#Biological_warfare_and_disease.2Fpathogen_experiments

Agree, they should get R/C guys instead. (2)

Spy Handler (822350) | about a year ago | (#43218333)

These guys already have mad joystick skillz, and they are mostly nice people who don't to around asking people how to become a drone pilot cuz they think it's cool to blow shit up.

I play golf at a course right next to a major R/C airfield. On most Sunday mornings you can see two big R/C jets, most likely scratch-built. These suckers are loud and FAST. The way they maneuver these things around and come in for a precise landing is awesome to watch.

Whatever they do, they should NOT hire people who play video games! These are absolutely the worst people to get; they will blow stuff up for fun, grief other players, call them noob, use wallhacks and aimbots and so on.

Re:Agree, they should get R/C guys instead. (1)

tlhIngan (30335) | about a year ago | (#43224117)

These guys already have mad joystick skillz, and they are mostly nice people who don't to around asking people how to become a drone pilot cuz they think it's cool to blow shit up.

I play golf at a course right next to a major R/C airfield. On most Sunday mornings you can see two big R/C jets, most likely scratch-built. These suckers are loud and FAST. The way they maneuver these things around and come in for a precise landing is awesome to watch.

A drone is essentially a long-range RC aircraft.

You see, a UAV encompasses unmanned aircraft. But they can be controlled from the ground (remotely piloted), aka a drone, or they can have some smarts in it and be fully autonomous or semi-autonomous (in which a pilot plots the course and the plane flies it while the pilot watches).

Drons that kill, are also called UCAVs, but it's inaccurate since it encompasses again, both remotely piloted and autonomous (fully or semi) aircraft.

Typically for lowlevel duties, an autonomous aircraft works fine - small and do little damage if they malfunction. But if you want to integrate into the current airspace system, it's currently only drones or semi-autonomous vehicles as well, until the technology becomes universal, UAVs can't quite talk to ATC yet.

There are plenty of civilian applications, including SAR (a drone can fly in weather that a SAR pilot would not - better to not risk the SAR crew, after all. A lot of SAR is actually trying to prevent the SAR crews from getting trapped like the people they're rescuing).

Re:Anyone... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43218345)

I think you're confusing "drone" with "weaponized UAV."

One degree in Ender's Game please (1)

kruach aum (1934852) | about a year ago | (#43218097)

I would also enjoy playing video games for real for a living as well. My life would literally be a sci fi novel.

Re:One degree in Ender's Game please (1)

c0lo (1497653) | about a year ago | (#43218947)

One degree in Ender's Game please

Does this includes... ummm... international students?
After the schools will have spare capacity, it would be against "free market" not to accept...errr... Chinese students, isn't it?

Well that's funny (4, Interesting)

HeckRuler (1369601) | about a year ago | (#43218113)

Because when I went to school it was to automate those guys out of a job.

I mean, that was my "big plan" at least. I got a nice well rounded education and went off into entirely different fields of programming and software engineering, but senior design project was to automate a gas-powered helicopter. We had a big clunky accelerometer that fell off a fighter jet from a friend in the industry. Ludicrously advanced for students at the time and horribly outmatched by a wiimote a few years later. All in all it was a good project. Would have been nice to work professionally on autonomous UAVs, but that's a little hard to do in Iowa.

But talk about a degree with a shelf life.

Re:Well that's funny (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43219463)

Best case, they're going to be unemployed, because the FAA is not going to have regulations for UAVs in place in the next 4 years. After that, people are going to realize that a system which adds complexity also adds costs. Not only do you have to build an airworthy airplane, but now you have to add redundant datalinks and a separate ground control station. (If you want this things flying over your children, you should insist on redundancy on both the links and ground control station.) this is going to add to the cost. Now, the kicker is that we don't know how much the liability insurance will cost, because there's no good guess on how hostile juries are going to be about UAVs. However, get one right-wing or left-wing nutjob on the jury, and you're held liable.

We're going to see industry stay at RC airplanes under 50 lbs, with a very few exceptions. Any level of autonomy, including autopilot, shifts liability from the controller to the manufacturer, which is going to be the death of the industry.

Needing a degree? (5, Funny)

chrism238 (657741) | about a year ago | (#43218121)

Surely it doesn't require a degree to become a drone pilot - just an enthusiasm for video games and a morality bypass?

Re:Needing a degree? (1)

Antipater (2053064) | about a year ago | (#43218181)

It probably also requires a good deal of study in both aeronautics and software development. And don't call me shirley!

Re:Needing a degree? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43218419)

So hi tech skills and a lack of any morals or conscience?

Re:Needing a degree? (1)

thesupraman (179040) | about a year ago | (#43219677)

I am thinking that would be required to become a drone DESIGNER, not a drone PILOT.

Normal pilots dont generally need a degree (although practical degrees do exist).

Sounds much more like universities smell a gravy train, and want to jump on.

Re:Needing a degree? (1)

Alioth (221270) | about a year ago | (#43222369)

In the US, you won't get a pilot job at a major airline without a degree.

They don't care particularly what the degree is in, but they want to see at least a bachelor's degree. There are some universities who specialize in aerospace degrees though for hopeful airline pilots (such as Embry-Riddle)

Re:Needing a degree? (2)

DNS-and-BIND (461968) | about a year ago | (#43218281)

Morality bypass? Where did that nonsense come from? Please provide a citation. Drones (at least US drones) are provided with quite strict ROE (rules of engagement) and Youtube is stuffed with videos in which drone operators curse but are unable to engage targets due to ROE restrictions.

Are you sure you aren't just regurgitating groupthink that you got of some website? Why don't you try thinking for yourself for a change?

Re:Needing a degree? (1)

spacefight (577141) | about a year ago | (#43218389)

For some uf us, morality means to not even think about piloting or remote-piloting an armed aircraft, doesn't matter whether it would be for training or in actual combat.

GP is not posting nonsense.

There are, howewer quite a few legit reasons to pilot an unarmed and unmanned drone, be it for fun or for profit. This excludes the military, for reasons outlined above.

Re:Needing a degree? (1)

DNS-and-BIND (461968) | about a year ago | (#43221945)

"War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things. The decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feeling, which thinks that nothing is worth war, is much worse. The person who has nothing for which he is willing to fight, nothing which is more important than his own personal safety, is a miserable creature and has no chance of being free unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself."
-- John Stuart Mill

"We are advocates of the abolition of war, we do not want war; but war can only be abolished through war, and in order to get rid of the gun it is necessary to take up the gun." -- Mao Tse-Tung

"You may not be interested in war, but war is interested in you."
-- Leon Trotsky

Re:Needing a degree? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43218445)

Strict rules? The question here is morals, not a whether a legal framework was built to justify a lack of morals. The citation would be a few years of news reports and murders. I'm sure the NKVD operated under strict rules too.

Yes, we are thinking for ourselves unlike your "Yes sir! Authority is always right!" cowardly mentality.

Re:Needing a degree? (1)

chrism238 (657741) | about a year ago | (#43219435)

Are you sure you aren't just regurgitating groupthink that you got of some website? Why don't you try thinking for yourself for a change?

No need for the ad-hominem attack - I am thinking for myself, on this day, the 10th anniversary of that fully justified invasion of Iraq, also under your precious 'quite strict ROE (rules of engagement)', by the Coalition of the Killing.

Re:Needing a degree? (1)

Scorpinox (479613) | about a year ago | (#43220837)

A little harsh, but thanks for bring up ROE. Saying drones are bad is not the same as saying war is bad. The latter is a conversation worth having, but saying drones are bad is just stifling scientific progress. Not all unmanned aerial vehicles kill people, and there is a massive potential to use UAVs not just for surveillance, but for mapping of dangerous terrain, transport of goods, and whatever else you can think of to get something somewhere without a human being there.

If you want to put a LIDAR on a drone to 3D map a riverbed, it's basically impossible right now with current US laws, and all this "drones are gonna kill you" talk is just making it that much more difficult for real engineers to get working, non-military, society-enhancing things out in the world.

Re:Needing a degree? (1)

Alioth (221270) | about a year ago | (#43222381)

This has nothing to do with any "public fear" of drones though. The reason you can't stick a LIDAR on a drone and 3D map a riverbed is that drones can't see and avoid, and it might just blindly pile into the actual manned pipeline or electricity inspection patrol flying in the opposite direction. So drones are (quite rightly) limited at the moment to restricted airspace. You can't just restrict airspace on a whim either, because to do that you're taking away the freedom of pilots to use that airspace.

In any case it's not a big deal not being able to put a LIDAR on a drone - it's probably not that much cheaper than hiring a commercial aircraft operator to do it for you with a manned aircraft.

Re:Needing a degree? (1)

Type44Q (1233630) | about a year ago | (#43218387)

Surely it doesn't require a degree to become a drone pilot - just an enthusiasm for video games and a morality bypass?

An actual fear of flying couldn't hurt either (you know, on a plane). :p

should be at the trades / apprenticeship level (1)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | about a year ago | (#43218895)

should be at the trades / apprenticeship level or maybe 2 year community / tech school

Re:Needing a degree? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43227711)

Not to mention that drones will be used for tons of non-military purposes in the future. Mapping, wildlife monitoring, environmental/weather tracking, search and rescue both urban and wilderness, forest fire monitoring. Knowing how to fly one would be a big help if you were a programmer in the domain as well.

Hubsan x4 quadcopter (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43218171)

Just get one. Its an amazing piece of chinese engineering. It is in fact so good, that a US toy company, Traxxas is rebranding and selling it at 2x the price.

This is a perfect introduction into what modern drones can do, for around 40$

Stimulus drone (1)

roman_mir (125474) | about a year ago | (#43218191)

Clearly there is a case for aircraft that could be operated from ground and used by private companies for example for shipment, cargo delivery. UPS, Fedex, DHL, Purolator, etc., they could use drones that are just remotely piloted cargo planes.

OTOH is that what TFA is really about? Are these students going to end up 'working' for the military or maybe your local PD, flying a drone to spy on the citizens?

Drones, you say? (2, Funny)

Inf0phreak (627499) | about a year ago | (#43218241)

I can get a diploma in Zerg showing I can drone hard [youtube.com]? Awesome...

*Reads submission again*... oooh. That kind of drones. That's a lot less awesome.

Re:Drones, you say? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43221483)

In the Game of Drones, you either win or you die.

has to be said (1)

HPHatecraft (2748003) | about a year ago | (#43218253)

"Traveling through Federal airspace ain't like dusting crops, boy! Without precise calculations we could fly right through a blimp parade or bounce too close to a cell tower, and that'd end your trip real quick, wouldn't it?"

Putting non U.S. citizens in that class. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43218301)

Will make you the sower of your own destruction.

Re:Putting non U.S. citizens in that class. (1)

rubycodez (864176) | about a year ago | (#43220207)

that's silly, plenty of conventionally piloted craft can be just as dangerous as a drone. heck, I know of a time, seven decades ago, and place where the "cruise missile"'s embedded controller was a dude.....then twelve years back some saudi arabians did the thing with jumbo jets

"The Last Starfighter" (1)

Kittenman (971447) | about a year ago | (#43218529)

Life imitates art... or at least, ho-hum Hollywood SF movies

Re:"The Last Starfighter" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43219055)

Apparently it is Dubya's favourite movie. Seriously.

BTW, I am always unsure of how the possessive apostrophe works. If I have used it incorrectly above, I would appreciate it if some grammar nazi eviscerates my work (as an aid to my memory).

Re:"The Last Starfighter" (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | about a year ago | (#43233961)

It goes after the possessor. This works for plurals too, even irregular ones. Fred's car - the car belongs to Fred. Pigs' ears, the ears belong to the pigs. Men's hats - the hats belong to men.

Go to uni? (1)

BLT2112 (1372873) | about a year ago | (#43218735)

RTFA... couldn't find any mention of any school with the initials uni. Did I miss something, or did it mean UND?

Re:Go to uni? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43219813)

Are you serious?

veterans to go school for 2-4 years to do same job (1)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | about a year ago | (#43219003)

veterans to go school for 2-4 years to do same job that you did in military seems like a ripoff / way to suck up GI bill funds. Maybe if they need classes on that hardware / differnt laws but that does not take 2-4 years.

Re:veterans to go school for 2-4 years to do same (1)

bussdriver (620565) | about a year ago | (#43219207)

I know somebody going into the program to get a degree in drones. After high school; it is not for vets it is more of a recruitment program - that degree won't be much use afterwards unless the student works for government.

It's a bogus program and a stupid degree. Nobody needs it to fly a drone but the kids seem to think that is what it is for-- that is not the case. They don't need jack to fly a remote control and the people doing it now have little education. Most will not fly one but they'll have student debt and a career path that primarily consists of military and Fatherland Security. People working on and making "drones" will have serious degrees.

Re:veterans to go school for 2-4 years to do same (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43225185)

If you want to operate drones, get a degree in electrical engineering or mechanical engineering. Even an associates to get certified in hydraulics or as an electrician will do. Then you do the training seminars to fly, or dive, or drive, or whatever it is that is your fancy. THis is due to the pilot also having to do alot of the repairs and maintenance.

Go To Uni, Earn a Degree In Drones (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43219025)

Go To Uni, Earn a Degree In Drones, Build or fly something that watches and shoots your fellow citizens.

Completely missing the point? (1)

jxander (2605655) | about a year ago | (#43219211)

I'm pretty sure that the entire point of drones, in the long run at least, is to eliminate the need for pilots.

In the civilian sector : It will start with cargo planes first, but once you have them programed, "take off from Airport X, and land at Airport Y," with all the necessaries to correct for weather and what-not ... why would you ever need a pilot again? Just use a tug to put the thing in position on the taxiway, and run the command.

Military drones completely unmanned (without remote pilot) might be a little further out, but still the end goal. A human programmer sets it up : fly to waypoint A, check rules of engagement commands - no civilians detected - target confirmed, drop bombs, fly home. And if there's ever a need for air-to-air combat, current manned fighter jets have so much long-range capability that old-fashioned dogfights have gone the way of trench warfare. Any computer program can confirm IFF, lock and fire missiles, deploy countermeasures as needed.

a small drone is not a jumbo jet and lost of conto (1)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | about a year ago | (#43219695)

a small drone is not a jumbo jet and lost of control link can be bad also control lag.
http://publicintelligence.net/the-problems-with-domestic-drones/ [publicintelligence.net]

Right now the autopilot can't handle some things and bad / off airplane sensors can lead to crashes.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Air_France_Flight_447 [wikipedia.org]
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Austral_L%C3%ADneas_A%C3%A9reas_Flight_2553 [wikipedia.org]
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Northwest_Airlines_Flight_6231 [wikipedia.org]
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Birgenair_Flight_301 [wikipedia.org]
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/AeroPeru_Flight_603 [wikipedia.org]

Also they have auto disengage conditions.

Computerized autopilots can crash, but unlike software used in a home computer, the software used in avionics systems is very thoroughly tested and very conservatively designed, such that bugs are practically unknown, and crashes don't occur.

Re:a small drone is not a jumbo jet and lost of co (1)

Scorpinox (479613) | about a year ago | (#43220785)

Losing communication to a ground station is one of the first things that proper drones already account for. At the simplest, they'll hover in place until they run out of fuel, and slowly land before that even happens. More advanced ones will remember where the base station is and attempt to return to it to get communication back, continue on preset courses or whatever else to safely continue on. Of course there will be hardware or software problems just like there are with airplanes, cars, whatever, but there a lot of really smart people out there figuring this stuff out right now, and they're aware of all these possible issues.

It's just flying an R/C FPV... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43219571)

... and there are no end of clubs throughout the country/world where people are PAYING to do that.

Oh, and you can now buy drone RC aircraft at any comprehensive R/C store. http://www.hobbyking.com/hobbyking/store/__26029__MQ_9_Reaper_Fiberglass_2500mm_FPV_ARF_UK_Warehouse_.html refers...

Of course (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43220331)

Of course kids from North Dakota want to be drone pilots. What else do they have to look forward to? Since farming is becoming increasingly automated, their video game skills are about the only thing left they have to parlay.

And if you don't go? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43220905)

Don't go to Uni, become a drone?

Seriously? A degree in piloting drones? (1)

NeveRBorN (86123) | about a year ago | (#43220919)

Why not just tap into the 99% of computer science graduates that are don't deserve their degrees?

Where is Uni? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43221361)

Is that a specific school?

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