Thomas Nelson Community College (Thomas Nelson), with campuses in Hampton and Williamsburg, serves the residents of the eastern peninsula in Virginia. The service area includes many private employers, state and local government, and several defense and federal employers such as NASA Langley Research Center, Joint military base Langley-Eustis, Fort Monroe, Naval Weapons Station, and the Coast Guard’s Integrated Support Command Center. Thomas Nelson currently enrolls over 16,000 students and serves an ethnically and gender diverse population of students.
Thomas Nelson has been a key partner in GeoTEd-UAS projects since 2009. They have been one of the first colleges to integrate UAS technologies and missions into geographic information systems (GIS) courses.
Mountain Empire Community College (MECC) serves four counties and one city in southwest Virginia. The regional economy has suffered significant negative impacts from the decline of the coal mining industry. More than 80% of MECC’s program students receive aid. Southwest Virginia made national headlines in July 2015, when the Mid-Atlantic Aviation Partnership (MAAP) – one of six national FAA test sites led by Virginia Tech (VT), Wise County, Flirtey-an Australian UAS company with an emphasis on product delivery and a domestic business location on the west coast, the Remote Area Medical (RAM) Clinic, and NASA Langley collaborated to conduct the first FAA-approved humanitarian UAS delivery of medicines to patients. The event, entitled “Let’s Fly Wisely,” sparked a strong interest among UAS companies to consider Wise County and the MECC service region for future UAS business. MECC offered several UAS-focused pilot courses during 2016-17 and developed one of the first GIS programs in the Virginia Community College System.