Thomas Nelson Community College, 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.

Four counties and one city in southwest Virginia are served by Mountain Empire Community College (MECC).  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.

The Virginia Space Grant Consortium (VSGC) is part of NASA’s National Space Grant College and Fellowship Program. Established in 1989, VSGC  is a coalition of five Virginia colleges and universities, NASA, state educational agencies, Virginia’s Center for Innovative Technology, and other institutions representing diverse science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education and research. The VSGC acts as an umbrella organization, coordinating and developing STEM and  high technology educational and research efforts throughout the Commonwealth and connecting Virginia’s effort to a national community of shared interests. VSGC has led and administered all previous geospatial technology (GeoTEd) related NSF-ATE funded projects in partnership with the Virginia Community College System, Virginia Tech, and several community colleges in Virginia.

 The Virginia Geospatial Extension   Program (VGEP) in the College of Natural Resources and Environment at Virginia Tech serves to directly support the role of Virginia’s communities and other stakeholders, by engaging professionals and organizations through technical training and assistance, through the development of educational resources, and through the identification and development of geospatial applications. The Geospatial Extension Program also coordinates with other organizations that have a vested interest in empowering local stakeholders and educators to better support the management of Virginia’s resources.


Public and private partnerships with NASA and business and industry are critical to the success of preparing the UAS workforce. The following partnering organizations and individuals are significant contributors and supporters of the GeoTEd-UAS project.