Thomas Nelson Community College (TNCC), with campuses in Hampton and Williamsburg, serves the residents of two counties and four cities in highly populated eastern 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.
TNCC currently enrolls over 16,000 students and serves an ethnically and gender diverse population of students. Since 2009, TNCC has had a Career Studies Certificate for a GIS Technician that has grown since its inception. The integration of UAS technologies into GIS is a logical step for the remote sensing component of the curriculum.
UAS will also support the geology department in collecting LiDAR data and will engage electronics technology students to design and implement low cost electronic sensors for UAS technologies. TNCC will leverage current partnerships with the UAS teams at NASA Langley and NASA WFF to provide UAS/GST learning, internship and employment opportunities for students. Support to develop strong relationships with employers, resources for marketing strategies, cross-curricular integration of the technology, and UAS/GST distance learning will help TNCC to grow and diversify student enrollment.
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. The Appalachian Regional Commission has designated all of the jurisdictions in the MECC region as “at-risk” or “distressed” based on key economic indicators such as unemployment, poverty rates, and per capita income.
More than 80% of MECC’s program students receive aid (Ratliff, 2015). 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.
The GeoTEd-UAS Institute is available to full-time community college faculty. A limited number of stipends are available. Faculty will receive an $800 stipend for each year ($1,600 total) provided that expectations within and outside of the institute are met.
These expectations include:
- Attend the GeoTEd-UAS Institute (5 days) in the Spring 2017 and Spring 2018 (late May, early June) in Blacksburg, VA.
- Develop courses and pathways at your college to prepare UASOT.
- Access the offerings of other colleges as needed to provide UASOT opportunities to students. Become a college-wide resource in the use and application of UAS to faculty in other curricula.
- Provide training to those faculty in the legal, safe, and productive operation and analysis of UAS collected data.
- Publicize the use of UAS to increase UASOT program enrollment in both your service region and across the state and region.