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Sinclair to invest $1.4M in drone education

Sinclair Community College will invest $1.4 million in its unmanned aerial systems program as part of an effort to establish the college as a national leader in the field.

The college’s Board of Trustees on Tuesday approved the investment aimed at building on Sinclair’s momentum in the industry — which is expected to exceed $94 billion worldwide by 2020 — while managing the risks that come from future uncertainty surrounding federal regulations.

The college will immediately put $550,000 toward staff, curriculum and equipment to expand its UAS educational programs, and the remainder of the funds will be requested in 2014.

“We’ve been a leader in the UAS emerging industry,” said Trustee Robert Connelly. “We think the potential is significant and we think our investment will also help realize those opportunities.”

The region and state of Ohio “are in a unique position to become the destination of choice for UAS researchers and developers, manufacturers, suppliers, trainers and educators,” according to Sinclair. Leaders in the Dayton-Springfield area are working to nab one of six designations as a drone test site, which would bring nearly 2,000 high-paying jobs to the area. Overall, more than 105,000 jobs related to drones could be created in the United States in the next 15 years, according UAS International.

The new investment by Sinclair will build on the college’s already existing UAS education programs. In March 2012, Sinclair unveiled 10 simulators, worth a combined $350,000, to teach students to operate drones and their sensors, which can be used in disaster response, to fly over industrial fires, conduct agricultural surveying and more. This month, the college also hosted a national UAS conference.

The initial $550,000 will go to:

  • $240,000 for staffing and operational support
  • $120,000 for curriculum development

  • $100,000 for capital equipment

  • $90,000 for contracts to support external subject matter experts

The $1.4 million will be returned to Sinclair’s strategic program reserves fund within 10 years, Connelly said.

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